Summer Hours

  • Year:2009
  • Rating:M
  • Director:Oliver Assayas
  • Cast:Charles Berling, Juliette Binoche, Jeremie Remier, Edith Scob
  • Release Date:April 02, 2009
  • Distributor:Palace
  • Running time:99 minutes
  • Film Worth:$10.50
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

“…mildly engaging…”

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Family gatherings, the tensions that they can expose, and skeletons in closets often make for riveting dramas. In this case, they make for a watchable but only mildly engaging one. Like Flight Of The Red Balloon, another in the series of films commissioned by and featuring Paris' Musee D'Orsay, Summer Hours is rather muted and amorphous. The premise here, or rather the first major event, is that elderly French matriarch Helene (Edith Scob) dies suddenly, leaving her three adult children not only to grieve, but also to decide what to do with her rambling rustic house and the valuable art collection that originally belonged to her uncle. He himself was a highly acclaimed artist, and the two were very close.

Fortunately, this story concerns sentimental value as much as the commercial type, and is also about guilt, regret, sibling rivalry, veneration, love, death and especially memory. They're big themes, but some are given indifferent treatment. The siblings are Frederic (Charles Berling), an economist and writer; designer Adrienne (Juliette Binoche); and businessman Jeremie (Jeremie Renier). Frederic lives in Paris and wants achingly, desperately, to hang on to the house and its memories. The other two live in New York and China respectively, and want ultimately to let go. Then there are partners and kids. Conflict at some level seems almost inevitable.

There are no real standout performances, though Berling is effectively vulnerable and tense, and everyone's competent enough. The limitation lies in a rather prosaic script.  Summer Hours meanders along as a restrained mood piece, and is quite good and moving in parts, but it's just plain flat in others.

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