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Breakfast With... Clarissa, Virginia, and Laura

We begin our 10th anniversary celebration of The Hours, in the only logical place: morning rituals

Good morning ladies: Laura would like to sleep in, Virginia never sleeps, Clarissa sleeps fitfully

A woman's whole life in a single day. Just one day. And in that day, her whole life. 
-Virginia Woolf, The Hours

The central framing ambition of The Hours, is vocalized about 17 minutes in after the genius author Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) has written the first and soon to be rather famous sentence to (one of) her masterpiece(s) "Mrs. Dalloway." I'd liken it to that moment when the tea kettle starts whistling except that nobody is having tea. But, nevertheless the movie's three strands (1923, 1951, and 2001) have been simmering with, bubbling over and spilling into one another in Stephen Daldry's pot and we're definitely full steam. But first things first... what are our ladies having for breakfast?

Laura Brown (Julianne Moore) will just have a cup of coffee after a morning read. It's her husband's birthday which makes today not a completely ordinary day but I'm betting this tactical delay, this literary procrastination of the ohgodnotagainwhereamI zombie pregnant walk into the kitchen where chipper husband and doe-eyed needy son await her IS an ordinary daily ritual. She only drinks coffee but reluctantly agrees with her husband that little Richie (Jack Novello) should eat a balanced meal: orange juice, corn flakes with banana slices, and toast. He never takes a bite. His giant needy eyes would rather drink up his mama's every glacial move about the kitchen.

Though the movie forces parallels on us all the time, like Clarissa and Virginia both splashing water on their faces first thing in the morning, we don't see Clarissa's breakfast routine at all. But Virginia, like Laura prefers books and coffee to actual human company and nutrition. 

Leonard: Have you had breakfast?
Virginia: Yes.
Leonard: Liar. Virginia it's not my insistence - it's your own doctors. I'm going to send Nelly up with some fruit and a bun.

[Death glare from Virginia]

Right, lunch then. Proper lunch. husband and wife sitting down together. Soup, pudding and all by force if necessary. 

Heh. Can we talk about how marvelous Stephen Dillane is in this movie? He gets no credit but he plays off of Nicole Kidman's jagged edges so beautifully, as if he loves all of the aggravating parts of her, as if he's navigated her thorny whims for years and is only occassionally bloodied from the handling of them.

Right, breakfast then. I'm having scrambled eggs, apple juice, and banana slices thanks to little Richie Brown's well balanced example... and the whims of my own kitchen since I have no Nelly to bring me fruit and a bun.

Which one of The Hours cast would you most like to eat breakfast with?

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Reader Comments (32)

I don't think this movie aged well. That score, god! The editing. Everything seems so unsubtle now.

Would love to see Pedro Almodovar to direct it. He wanted to. Marco is reading The Hours when he gets the news Benigno killed himself in Talk to Her.

And I love the Kidman, But Moore was robbed. And even if Moore weren't in contention, I'd give the Oscar to Diane Lane. It is so frustrating to see an actress you love winning for the wrong movie.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Cal -- but that's the only way to see an actress you love winning. it's ALWAYS for the wrong movie. #lessonslearned

January 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

As a Kidmaniac, I tend to overlook her in this role. But every time I return to it I remember that she is extraordinarily good, a perfectly deserving win even though 2002 was the year of Julianne Moore. My personal "Moore was robbed" narrative tends to dwarf Kidman's greatness.

But seriously, I get chills when she says "I can't think of anything more exhilarating than a trip to London." Kidman has never been so animalistic.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W

Yeah, you're right. Except for Theron and Roberts, every actress in the 2000's won for the wrong movies. Things were better in the 90's. Bates, Foster, Thompson, Hunter, McDormand (her best role and very deserving, but not the best), Paltrow and Swank won for the right movies.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Yes to Stephen Dillane! I think he gives the best performance in the movie. That scene at the train station destroys me. Anyway as long as we can avoid talking about Ed Harris, I'm good. I haven't watched this in a couple of years, it well past due for a rewatch. I love Glass' music - of course it's BIG. It needs to be BIG. You never hear anybody (well anybody with any sense) telling Douglas Sirk to dial it down a notch. All The Hours is is especially literate melodrama, and bless it for it.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJA

I do think Moore was robbed, but I think the Boogie Nights situation was even worse, because she was really the best of the year and only second to Judy Davis in Husbands and Wives as the best of the decade.

In Far From Heaven Moore is perfect and is the best of the nominees, but the best performance of that year (and the century, as of now) was Isabelle Huppert's, in The Piano Teacher.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Catherine Zeta-Jones in Chicago appears as a sound win theoretically but in actuality a wasted opportunity to give Julianne her elusive career Oscar.

The real sting of Basinger's win isn't Moore's defeat but Sigourney Weaver's shutout from the Oscar and SAG lineups—yes I'm aware she won the BAFTA that year, but only because Basinger was competing in a different category.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Ah, category fraud and its inventor.

Not like I have the power to do anything, but let's also talk about how Kidman and Dillane are my favourite couple in that movie, if not the whole of 2002. Light British bickering will never get old. And KIdman has this effect hat Michelle Williams has now, that like she makes every coupling she's in sizzle.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

We could just make the world all right by giving Nicole the Oscar the year before for Moulin Rouge and given it Julianne in '02 for Heaven. Then Halle doesn't have one, and the narrative is all the stronger for Viola to win last year.

Winning all over the place.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDrew C

Nicole's is easily my favourite Best Actress win of that decade (and I LOVE some of the other winners). True, I think everyone in the ensemble is doing excellent work (Miranda Richardon's Vanessa is in and out but still devastates) but Nicole's work is so moving for so many reasons - it's unlike much of what I consider to be her "usual" gifts, and even as a story that depends so on symbolism can't be subtle (so I wouldn't say it's unsubtlety is a crutch - but an asset) her performance so intricately unfolds.

(Those moments with Vanessa are my favourite part of the film.)

Do I gush? What can I say I love this one.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrewK.

I think it's one of the best roles ever played by Nicole Kidman, and she was the 1st contender to win the Oscar that year, nobody was as good as her, every time i watch The hours i cry during the train station scene, she was really breathtaking, she really a class act actress.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMoh123

Is it OK to answer Jack Rovello, but only if he's still handsome?

PS I would love to see Kathleen, Michelle and Glenn winning for the wrong movies.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

The Hours is something I could stay in bed to watch, actually. Yes, it's overwrought in some parts and doesn't strike me as a terribly great movie, but I'm always in a different, unsettled place when I watch it.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

PS. I'd have breakfast with Clarissa....especially if she's making that crab thing.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndrewK.

I adore this movie. My top 3 actresses together. And I re-visit it every year. Nicole deserved the gold for sure, even if Julianne was also wonderful in Far From Heaven.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Forget The Hours and focus on the Film Bitch Awards. I'm excited for them every year and every year it seems like March before you post them.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike

To answer the question though, I'd eat breakfast with Clarissa. The combined wit of her and Allison Janney would be too amazing to handle all at once.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDrew C

I loce Kidman, but to giver her the Oscar for Moulin Rouge would be wrong, too. Naomi Watts, people.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Oh silly, they'll never resist Halle Berry that year. Remember Denzel won actor that year. That was like a gigantic pat on their own back.

Love to have lunch with Toni Collette's character.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRic

These are my three favorite actresses currently working - I would demand breakfast with all three. In fact, my favorite character actress is Allison Janney, so she would be required as well. This cast is just brimming with brilliant women (Toni Collette! Claire Danes!) and every single character is given moments to shine. If only we could secure this cast for five movies - they'd probably all be among my favorites of all time. Just the ideas for where that story could go - amazing.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese

The film and the book upon which its based are among my favorite things to cling to when facing a storm in life. And that is kit and parcel with the themes that the women and the works are grappling with. And the uplifting of a woman's daily struggles to grandiosity (the score, the obsessive parallelisms, the constant whoosh of the camera) is a cinematic and literary gift that should not be counted as excess.

I'd love to see a feature here that closely compares the novel and the film. One of the most compelling arguments in favor of the acting in this film is when you piece together the moments of silent acting with their counterparts in the prose written in Michael Cunningham's source text. The ways in which the actresses are capable of conveying exactly the complex, reaching, conflicting thoughts that the characters consider in the novel are truly remarkable. If you haven't read the book, you'll know something is afoot on screen in these moments; if you are familiar (or hooked, as I am) to the novel's words, you can't help but weep as you track the actresses through the curves of Cunningham's words. Simply astonishing. Maybe it's possible to even overlay the text over these moments. Thrilling.

The screenplay does a remarkable job of maintaining the integrity of the novel's writing, but there are of course moments that needed to be excised. I LOVE Meryl's reading of the memory in Wellfleet to Claire Danes's character...the way she trails off, overcome by the privacy of her own thoughts. Read that passage in the book -- "That was the moment. There has been no other" -- CHILLING. And "Come to bed, Laura Brown" and Julianne's look in the bathroom is bolstered so strongly by pairing it with the original text.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

My dream list for Best Actress Winners of the naughties are:


January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIvan

Julianne Moore was good, but she was the weakest of the three leads for me. My favorite scene is actually probably the scene Meryl has with Claire Danes. Maybe it's the writing, but god, I love the line "I remember one morning getting up at dawn, there was such a sense of possibility. You know, that feeling? And I remember thinking to myself: So, this is the beginning of happiness. This is where it starts. And of course there will always be more. It never occurred to me it wasn't the beginning. It was happiness. It was the moment. Right then." Beautiful and somewhat sad.

I also love the train station scene, and of course, who DOESN'T love Toni Collette in this movie (!!!).

I do really like this movie; I also thought it was so interesting that Nicole Kidman was writing the book, Julianne was reading it, and Meryl was living it. That's how it is right? Or is that just how I saw it???

And Drew - STOP. Omg. An Oscar for Nicole, Julianne, and Viola??? Ughghghhghghggh

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip

The 2002 Best Actress race was between Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger, so no need to blame the former for blocking Julianne Moore's path to Oscar glory. As a matter of fact, I don't think she's ever placed higher than third in the voting, which is ridiculous.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMike M.

I don't Kidman get enough credit for what she contributed to this movie. She is amazing and her reading of that letter is haunting, to say the least. It might not be her best performance but it's definitely an Oscar-worthy choice. Also, so sad that Streep didn't get much attention for her equally stunning work here.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBVR

For me, this movie is very overrated. Very preachy and full of itself, not to mention cold and depressing. If feel the same way about it as I feel about American Beauty. The three performances were good, but nothing Oscar worthy, though Kidman was the best. To me, Kidman and Collette were the standouts.

@ cal roth
Agree that Roberts and Theron won for the right movies, but you have to include Marion Cotillard in that list as well.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

Re: The Hours score- I remember being enthralled with the score on viewing the film and to this day still enjoy playing it on piano... perhaps part of the reason the first commenter doesn't think it aged well is that many other film scores within the last decade were derivative of Philip Glass' masterpieces?

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermatt

As strong as the three leads are, Toni Collette totally stole this movie. I think it's a great film.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrandz

The Hours is one movie that will always sits in my heart in an awkward place. I mean, Streep, Moore and Kidman, all of my goddesses-I just can't help but feel obligated to like it, not a good thing. Toni Collette took my breath away in that one short scene she had and made me think that why is this actress does not have a high profile career in Hollywood like she totally deserves. I blame David Hare if I had to find someone to blame ( sorry! ). Ed Harris can take the icing on the cake.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMingy

Sorry, David Hare and Ed Harris are referring to the movie, Not Toni's career! English is not my first language.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMingy

Mingy. thanks for the clarification and don't worry about the english. It still makes sense! Especially the part about "why doesn't Toni Collette have a better career?" this makes me crazy too. It was so depressing to see her wasted in HITCHCOCK recently.

January 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

"He gets no credit but he plays off of Nicole Kidman's jagged edges so beautifully, as if he loves all of the aggravating parts of her, as if he's navigated her thorny whims for years and is only occassionally bloodied from the handling of them."

Beautiful sentence, Nathaniel. I reread it twice just to savor it again.

January 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commentersosowie

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