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Summer Hours
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Reviewed on 2009-07-10
Received[3]  out of 4 stars
GenreDrama / Family
Internal dynamics come into play following the death of a parent in this family drama written and directed by acclaimed French filmmaker Olivier Assayas.

Every summer the family comes home for a reunion. The mother, Helene, is celebrating her 75th birthday. She beams with pride at this opportunity for everyone to be together again.

Her oldest son, Frederic, is an economist and university professor who lives 50 minutes away by train in Paris. Her daughter, Adrienne (Juliette Binoche from "Dan in Real Life," "Chocolat" and "The English Patient"), is a successful New York designer. Her youngest son, Jeremie, is a dynamic businessman in China.

The house in the countryside has been in the family for nearly half a century. The family heirlooms and keepsakes rekindle special childhood memories associated with growing up. Helene was the heiress to her uncle's exceptional 19th century art collection. There are museum-worthy paintings, books, art objects and pieces of antique furniture in every nook and cranny of the house.

When Helene dies unexpectedly, the three siblings, who are leading divergent lives going in separate directions, must make tough choices in dividing up the estate.

This meditation on life and the loss of a loved one is a universal subject that everyone is forced to encounter. It is a crossroads moment when the past becomes a distant memory and the future looks ominous. A literary approach much like chapters in a book is taken with every segment occurring at a different season over the course of a year.

The movie excels at character development and exposing the innermost feelings of the main players. It points out how life goes on with one generation following another.

This movie should foster discussion about estate planning for baby boomers that are now next in the firing line of mortality.

The acting is superb and the cinematography is top drawer. French films are not shy about tackling real-life issues in a meaningful way. Dialogue is in French with English subtitles. Opening exclusively at the Glenwood Arts.

Review By:
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"


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