I finally saw About Schmidt and The Hours this weekend. I enjoyed About Schmidt quite a bit, but I didn't really think it was an extraordinary effort. Very subtle writing, which I appreciate. The never beat you over the head with the film's point. Even the emotional final scene played more ironic than moving. The film kept hinting at greater meaning, but that was part of its conceit. It seemed a study of the mediocre. A study of the soul-killing conformity of society through someone who doesn't break out of it. We see him stiffled. We see his rage. But, nothing really happens. And that's the point, it seemed. Like I said, nothing extraordinary, but I enjoyed.
I have to say, I didn't get The Hours. I mean, I understood it. I just didn't get it. Where Schmidt was relatively subtle, Hours really did beat you over the head with it. The multiple storylines really didn't pay off for me. It just seemed like three underdeveloped stories. It was more gimmick, more gag, than useful device. Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep's characters were so overdone that it was just boring. Especially Moore's repressed 50's housewife. I mean, we get it already. Its a set-up that's been used since the freakin 50's themselves. I'd have been more impressed if the 50's and present day situations had been swaped. At least it would have been different. The acting was quite nice on both counts, but I've seen better from both actors. Heck, we saw better from Steep that year with Adaptation's marvelous performance. Nicole Kidman did stand out as Virginia Woolf, but that story felt the most underdeveloped. Perhaps because it had the most potential. But, I guess no one is rushing out to make (or rather, market) period films about female authors. Oh, well. The one thing that really impressed was the acting from the supporting cast. All of them stood out. It was quite a switch from Schmidt where many supporting roles were played by non-actors to drive home its maddeningly ordinary point. Here, we had a whole slew of people who've done great work on their own with standout performances in the supporting roles. I can't think of a one I wasn't quite impressed with, but also none that stood out so much as to distract from the picture. The perfect ensemble effect, I'd say. About all that really worked, though. Everything else was so unaplogetically manipulative that it just annoyed me.