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Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Hours Review

Summer Hours - An E1 FIlms Release


Release Date: June 19th, 2009

Rated 14A for some language, some drug content and some sexual content

Running time: 98 minutes

Olivier Assayas (dir.)

Olivier Assayas (writer)

Juliette Binoche as Adrienne

Charles Berling as Frédéric

Jérémie Renier as Jérémie

Edith Scob as Hélène

Dominique Reymond as Lisa

Valérie Bonneton as Angela

Isabelle Sadoyan as Éloïse

Kyle Eastwood as James

Our reviews below:


Summer Hours Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

After an opening scene of a bunch of kids playing, we find out that it’s their grandmothers 75th birthday party. The first 10 minutes of the film feel alive. Then she dies. I’m not actually sure why, because she didn’t appear weak or sick. Maybe time is supposed to have past since her birthday, but they certainly don’t clearly convey it. The next 70 minutes of the film are centered around her three middle-aged children trying to decide what to do with her estate. There is a lot of legal talk and we get educated quite a bit about antique furniture. Oh yes, there is also an extremely needless sub-plot that is only brought up in a few scenes, about their deceased mother and a very possible affair she had with her blood-uncle.

15 minutes from the end, it switches gears to be about the teenage grandchildren, and then it abruptly ends. I found the ending to be quite annoying, I kept waiting for it to go somewhere, but it never does. I think the writers were trying not to create characters, but just ordinary people. And they succeeded. But it’s almost so natural, that it stopped being all that interesting for me.

After seeing the wonderful trailer for the film, I was disappointed by the actual product. It’s interesting how this film is getting such a wide audience, but a French film that I think is better and more entertaining, The First Day of the Rest of Your Life, wasn’t really seen by anybody.

I liked Summer Hours almost enough to mildly recommend it, I just wish it had been shorter and more like the trailer. It’s mildly worth checking out, but you can definitely wait for the DVD. It’s in French with English subtitles.


Summer Hours (L’Heure d’Êté) Review By Erin V.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Summer Hours, or L'Heure d'Êté, as it is called in French, is an interesting, although kind of boring, (if that even makes sense), film.

While only 98 minutes in length, it felt way longer. The movie opens with a Summer party of relatives gathered in the yard of their mother/grandmother’s old house. It is the grandmother’s 75th birthday. The house is on a beautiful property, which the busy children only visit about twice a year for special occasions. After the party, the only child still living in France is called aside by his mother, who wants to make sure that he knows what to do with all of the valuable art pieces she has collected once she dies.

Inevitably, she does die, as you can see even from the trailer. Pretty soon after this opening scene in fact, and for the majority of the remainder of the movie, we get to watch long discussions between the children, art dealers, and real estate agents.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that this film will have no audience. A lot of people will probably find this film quite interesting. The thing for me was that there was a lot of fast conversational dialogue, with no background music for quite a while. The only time that it was the opposite was at the beginning and end, where it seemed like a different movie. For me, watching French subtitles for almost all dialogue scenes took me out of the movie. If you are fluent in French, maybe you might be able to follow along better without the distraction of the subtitles?

All in all though, I think that while the trailer does not quite give an accurate depiction of the actual pacing of the movie, it is in no means a bad film. If you are interested, by all means go see it, (or wait for DVD). This just won’t be the kind of movie for everyone.


Summer Hours Review By Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Summer Hours is a low key French movie about how one family deals with the loss of their mother/grandmother. The movie begins with the entire family celebrating he 75th birthday, at her expensive estate. We see a lovely scene of the grandchildren run through the fields and marsh in the grandmother’s vast yard, all the while on a pretend treasure hunt. Since she is getting older, she tells her son, Frederik that she would like all her antique furniture, and her uncle’s paintings donated to a museum, after she dies and the house is sold. Shortly after her birthday, she dies of old age. Now the family has to deal with her estate, trying to sell the house, as well as selling all her treasures. Much of the movie involves the family selling the house and treasures. In the end, however, we see how this loss affects one of the grandchildren, a teenage girl who is not handling things too well.

This movie, while a good premise, seemed to drag too long in the middle. It almost seems like this movie is trying to be two different films. The beginning and ending were more lively, had a score, and some character development. The middle, on the other hand focused more on estate planning, had no score, and not too much character development. I would have liked to see more character development, and less dialogue. I would have also liked to see more of the emotional side to the story. This movie probably could have been done in 80 minutes or less, as opposed to 98 minutes. Also, a subplot about the grandmother’s secret love affair, was just strange, and didn’t fit.

Despite the flaws though, Summer Hours is a fairly decent film. However, this one would be just as good on DVD.


Summer Hours Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

French film “Summer Hours’ started out with what seemed to be a promising story about family, love and letting go. The opening scenes show family members of all ages enjoying their beloved mother and grandmother’s 75th birthday at her beautiful French estate. We get to meet her adult children, their partners and children. We also get a tour of all the beautiful antiques and artwork the senior woman has cherished over the years. In an obvious foreshadowing, she tells her eldest son Frederik how she would like her special treasures distributed once she passes on.

The mother/grandmother does die of natural cause and the bulk of the movie deals with her family deciding to sell the house and distribute her treasures to various museums, art galleries and loved ones. Unfortunately this is where the movie fell apart for me. The dull, dry dialogue between family members and antique and art dealers went on far too long for my liking. I never really felt there was much character development of the bereave family members. It was hard to feel emotionally connected to the characters when they didn’t seem all that emotionally connected to one another.

The movie tries in the last 15 minutes or so to recapture the original mood at the beginning of the movie by focusing on one of the granddaughters and her emotional response to the selling of the house. By then, I was tired of watching. It’s not that I disliked Summer Hours. I actually enjoyed parts of it. The acting was decent, the scenery nice and I liked the basic premise of the story. Anyone who has gone through or is going through the experience of sorting through an elderly family member’s home and belongings will connect with the story. I just wish Summer Hours had tried harder to connect with the viewer. See this one if you like French film or the storyline appeals to you. This one would work just as well as a rental or DVD.


Summer Hours Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Au début de L'Heure d'Êté, Hélène (Edith Scob) fête son 75e anniversaire avec ses trois enfants et leur familles à sa maison d’été en campagne au nord de Paris. Son fils ainé Frédéric (Charles Berling) est professeur d’économie à Paris, marié avec deux enfants adolescents–une fille et un fils. Sa soeur Adrienne (Juliette Binoche) est spécialisée comme sa mère en arts décoratifs, basée à New York. Le troisième enfant Jérémie (Jérémie Renier) est gérant de la succursale chinoise d’une corporation globale. La maison est pleine d’objets d’art et des meubles uniques et précieux, collectionés par l’oncle d’Hélène, l’artiste célèbre Paul Berthier qui vivait avec Hélène et sa famille jusqu’à sa mort vingt ans auparavant.

Malgré les instructions détaillées d’Hélène à Frédéric sur la disposition de ses affaires après sa mort, de vendre ou donner toutes les pièces et de vendre la maison, Frédéric a envie de tout garder pour le plaisir de la génération prochaine. Cependent, quand Adrienne et Jérémie préfèrent la liquidation de tout parce qu’ils ne resteront plus en France, Frédéric doit être d’accord avec leur décision. Pour éviter l’impot d’état, la plupart des pièces sont données au Musée d’Orsay, et on assiste à l’ouverture d’une exposition de la collection. Enfin, pour la dernière fois, les enfants de Frédéric et leurs amis visitent la maison pour une fête.

Écrit et réalisé par Olivier Assayas, L'Heure d'Êté s’agit plutôt d’une famille dont la mère vient de mourir, et comment on la rappelle et s’occupe de ses affaires. Pour les gens comme moi d’un certain age qui se trouvent dans de telles situations, L'Heure d'Êté est un film bien écrit, sensible et touchant, avec une excellente distribution. Cependent, si on ne s’intéresse pas tellement des arts décoratifs, on pourrait s’ennuyer des longues discussions de ça.


Consensus: Summer Hours has too much endless dialogue with not enough action to sustain itself for 98 minutes. Also, some parts of the movie don’t quite fit with the rest. If you are interested in the subject matter though, it would be worth watching once it comes out on DVD. **1/2 (Out of 4)

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