Summer Hours (2008)

He said to choose anything. l couldn’t take advantage. l took something ordinary. What would l do with something valuable?

–Éloïse

Summer Hours that I vaguely heard about when it was released last year. A couple of my snobby friends absolutely loved this film. Seeing as that I recently got AT&T U-verse cable, I recorded it a couple of days ago. Since I had the best time at the movie theaters as of late, I thought I would check this movie out. I was left with one question after the end credits rolled, what did I gain from this movie?

Writer/director Olivier Assayas tells a quiet sotry about the Marly family where has gathered together to celebrate the 75th birthday of the matriarch, Hélène (Edith Scob). She lives in alone a deteriorating house after her husband dies years earlier. She holds on the precious heirlooms of her great-uncle, Paul.

The Marly children, the oldest Frédéric (Charles Berling), the only girl Adrienne (Juliette Binoche) and little brother Jérémie (Jérémie Reiner) don’t reunite as much, because flighty Adrienne lives in New York designing stemware, I believe and Jérémie lives in China working for an athletic shoe company. Hélène confides in Frédéric about her wishes for how the estate will be divided on the event of her death, because he is the only one that is living near the family house. Frédéric doesn’t want to discuss the matter, because he thinks that she will have a couple of more years left.

After a trip to San Francisco to go to a book signing for her new release for a photo book, she dies. This brings the three children back together to figure out what to do with the house. There is a hefty estate tax. Adrienne and Jérémie wants to sell the house, because with their busy schedule, they wouldn’t be able to visit the house if they kept it. Frédéric has reservations about selling it, because what if their children want to go there with their children? What will happen to the priceless heirlooms?

I was expecting to be blown away by this movie. I thought it was going to be a great character study on this distant family coming together after the death of their mother. I didn’t get that at all. I didn’t learn anything about this family. Why should I care about this people that I don’t learn anything about them. They were just there. Talking. Why should I care about this family? Nothing happens. I wasn’t compelling. I wasn’t drawn to it. It was like watching paint dry.

I didn’t realize until after the movie was over that the film was funded by the Musée d’Orsay that would mentioned in the film. That’s makes so much sense to me now. It’s basically a wink-wink, nudge-nudge film for boost tourism at the local French museums. I think it’s a little manipulative.

Judgment: I could only suggest this film to people that are hardcore French art fans.

Rating: **

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About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on June 9, 2010, in 2008, Drama, Foreign Language, Independent and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I didn’t really know how to feel about this one. On the one hand, it is unique in that it lets the actors play very mature, well thought-out characters. On the other, the story doesn’t really do anything with them. There are small feuds, and you can see some of the tension, but you can tell this was not made for an American audience because there is nothing grandiose in the feuding. As for the art, like you said you’d have to be an art nut to truly appreciate all of the references. Oliver Assayas does a good job directing, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the movie to my friends.

    • That’s exactly what I was thinking. It was a beautifully made movie, but it was devoid of meaning. It was something pretty to look at.

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