Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
"SUMMER HOURS" (L'heure d'ete)
Directed by: Olivier Assayas
Running time: 102 minutes
Release date: May 15, 2009
Genre: Art/Foreign and Drama (French with English subtitles)
Distributor: IFC Films
MPAA Rating: Not rated
In Summer Hours, three middle-age siblings rally around an ailing matriarch who is heiress to their uncle's 19th century art collection and large French country estate. This film has a contemporary setting relating to a lifestyle of a past artistic culture.
Two brothers Frederic (Charles Berling), Jeremie (Jeremie Renier), and sister Adrienne (Juliette Binoche) are successful in their careers that are in different parts of the world. Frederic resides with his family in Paris as an economist and university professor, Jeremie is single and living in China as a powerful businessman, and Adrienne is a designer engaged to be married in New York City. They are summoned to their lavish childhood French estate by their mother Helene (Edith Scob), where they reminisce of their wonderful life growing up. When Helene dies, the three siblings dispute the outcome of the home. The two brothers and sister witness the disappearance of their childhood memories when they must sell the family belongings. The problem is that the memories will be lost.
Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling and Jeremie Renier masterfully portray characters in a legitimate family who have their own agenda in life. Their economic and social conditions have discouraged the presence of a leader in the home, due to an avant-garde culture they lived as children. The film displays an ensemble cast exerting their love for each other with mixed feeling of carrying on a legacy. The characters found themselves representing an extended family widespread in many parts of the world.
Ultimately, the grandchildren Sylvie (Alice de Lencquesaing), James (Kyle Eastwood) and Eloise (Isabelle Sadoyan) are left without a dream of what they once heard of about family traditions of years past. Collectively, every character adds their brilliant performance to make a well balanced story of profiles, and temperaments
Filmmaker Olivier Assayas uses the sociology and themes of evolution of the family in this emerging narrative. With the thought of a basic social unit consisting of persons united by ties of marriage (affinity) and "blood" (consanguinity), the film takes the audience on a journey of kinship.
To say this is a wholesome movie is to be completely wrong. The film thoughtfully shares the visual effect of the loosening of traditional family ties.
(FILM RATING B+)