Summer Hours

Film
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
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Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars
In the pleasingly rambling garden of a country house north of Paris, lecturer Frédéric (Charles Berling), New York-based designer Adrienne (Juliette Binoche) and Jérémie (Jérémie Renier), who toils profitably for a French sportswear company in Beijing, are gathered with partners and kids for a lunch to celebrate the seventy-fifth birthday of their widowed mother Hélène (Edith Scob). She’s the proudly independent and protective keeper of the flame – and the valuable collected belongings – of her late uncle, a well-known artist, so when, months later, Hélène herself dies, the three siblings come together once more to decide what to do with the house, its coveted contents, and Hélène’s faithful housekeeper Eloise…

Assayas’s most fully satisfying film for some while, this is a warm, wise drama about the tensions and mysteries of family life. With a seemingly loose but meticulously assembled narrative in the style of his earlier ensemble piece ‘Late August, Early September’, it chronicles the interactions between the various characters with psychological subtlety and precision, even as it explores the changing roles played by art, property, work and blood-ties in an increasingly globalised world.

While never ignoring the grief death causes, Assayas refuses to sentimentalise;
it’s a film of deft, delicate nuances, particularly alert to the fact that everyone has not only his/her reasons but also, inevitably, secrets that will be borne to the grave. Perhaps the characters are finally a little too uniformly decent, but it would be churlish to bemoan the generosity of spirit in a film so beautifully performed, intelligently written and fluently directed.

Posted:

Details

Release details

Rated:
12A
Release date:
Friday July 18 2008
Duration:
103 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Olivier Assayas
Screenwriter:
Olivier Assayas
Cast:
Juliette Binoche
Charles Berling
Jérémie Rénier