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Olivier Assayas directs this French drama that features an all-star cast. In SUMMER HOURS (L'HEURE D'ÉTÉ), Frédéric, Adrienne, and Jérémie bring their families to the country house to celebrate the birthday of their mother, Hélène (Edith Scob, EYES WITHOUT A FACE)., French director Olivier Assayas (BOARDING GATE, IRMA VEP) subverts expectations with this empathetic drama about the fading relevance of objects as generations pass from one to the next. Helene (Edith Scob) has just turned 75 and is increasingly concerned about the particulars of leaving her estate behind when she dies. Unfortunately, the time comes when Adrienne (Juliette Binoche), Jeremie (Jeremie Renier), and Frederic (Charles Berling) must decide what to do with Helene's house and the artwork left behind by her famous uncle. Adrienne, who is living in New York City, and Jeremie, who is working in Asia, both understand that their future no longer resides in France, leaving the burden to Frederic. However, even when the siblings are at odds, they don't succumb to fighting. They seem to understand and accept that this is an unfortunate, muddled situation, and as much as they'd love to hold on to the house, it appears that their current situations carry more of an influence than the lives of their nostalgic past. With SUMMER HOURS, Assayas has delivered an understated motion picture about the importance of objects as historical artifacts and family heirlooms, and how time renders these objects obsolete. Contrary to the dysfunctional family dramas of fellow countryman Arnaud Desplechin (A CHRISTMAS TALE, KINGS AND QUEEN), Assayas keeps his characters calm and stable throughout. He isn't condemning these individuals for turning their backs on the past, and he certainly isn't out to belittle the importance of these objects' places in history. Shot by the acclaimed Eric Gautier and flawlessly acted by its principal cast, SUMMER HOURS is a touching, thoughtful drama.
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However, I think this film has much more to offer than just insights about memories, or generations, or possessions . . . .
It is the second in a series of films produced by Musée d'Orsay, after The Flight of the Red Balloon. Flight Of The Red Balloon [DVD] WS, Juliette Binoche
This film is a "map" of modern human consciousness.
It starts with a French family gathering in the provences at their family home. The aging mother, now 75 years old, played by lovely and charming French actress Edith Scob, has gathered with her children for a birthday. Her children have come from their careers, all over the world, to be with her. During the course of the celebration, they begin exchanging memories, sentiments, the realities of fulfilling careers in a modern global economy, and, the importance of their love and sentiment for each other.
In the wake of the mother's demise, the family explores the values that they hold most dearly. As all of us must face, in our modern lives, they make compromises so that they may continue with their careers, their global pursuits, and their relationships outside of the family. The denouement arrives when they decide to sell their mother's considerable estate, and, donate many of her objets d'art to the Musée d'Orsay.
The film witnesses the resolution of their grief, fears, hopes and dreams, as they gradually let go of the art that their mother had collected, and, which had surrounded them when they were children.
Juliette Binoche (as a blonde) is no less than brilliant in this performance. In many ways, it involved another enactment of her extraordinary, and award-winning, performance in "Bleu", in the well-known and respected French trilogy - Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge, by Kiezlowski. Three Colors Trilogy (Blue / White / Red)
This film exlplores all of our feelings, spirit, and thoughts, as all of us now struggle for identity in a global conscioussness, fast becoming smaller, and smaller, and smaller . . . .
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That and spaceships! ❤️