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Summer Hours-Movie Review 07/20/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, Emotional Drama, French language film, Movies.

Summer Hours (French) 2008
L’heure d’été

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film, Boston Society of Film Critics Awards
WINNER, Best Foreign Language Film, National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA
SECOND PLACE, Best Director (Assayas); Best Film; Best Screenplay (Assayas), National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA

From the Criterion Collection
Directed and screenplay by Olivier Assayas
Starring Edith Scob, Charles Berling, Juliette Binoche, and Jérémie Rénier

A quiet film in which three adult siblings must cope with their mother’s death, and then with the country estate full of valuable art that she has left behind.

The film begins with the mother Hélène (Scob) hosting a family reunion and expressing her wishes for what happens to her belongings after her death. The mother was very emotionally invested in the house and its contents, an amazing collection of fine art. Her moderately famous artist uncle lived in the house, and she loved him very much–their relationship might even have gone beyond that of uncle and niece.

Her children, Frédéric (Berling), Jérémie (Rénier), and Adrienne (Binoche) are busy with their own lives. They, and their children, have no more than a passing interest in keeping the traditions of the family home going. After the mother’s death, the three grieve for a time and then dispassionately disperse of the house’s collection.

This is touted as Assayas’s most personal film to date; in creating it, he drew upon much from his own life. The Special Features contains a fascinating discussion of how the director chose the collection of art work used in the film, some of which is original and some of which had to be copied. The fictional artist uncle’s own artwork and notebook sketches also had to be created, and great care was taken to reflect the times he would have worked in.

103 min. Unrated. Adult themes.



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