Slow French Drama
Release Date: May 22, 2009
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Charles
Berling, Jeremie Renier, Edith
Scob, Esabelle Sadoyan, and
Audience: Children and adults
Rating: Not Rated
Runtime: 103 minutes
Distributor: IFC Films
Director: Olivier Assayas
Executive Producer: Claire Dornoy
Producer: Charles Gillibert, Marin
Karmitz and Nathanael Karmitz
Writer: Olivier Assayas
Address Comments To:Jonathan Sehring, President, IFC Films/IFC Entertainment
Joshua Sapan, President/CEO, Rainbow Media Holdings LLC
(Independent Film Channel/IFC Films/IFC First Take/AMC/WE)
11 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 324-8500
Mother Helene was obsessed with her uncle’s paintings and antique collection. In dividing the estate, Frederic, the oldest, has to come to grips that his sister and brother will not be coming back to France to live. He also must realize that a chapter in his life is closing. He has struggles with a teenage daughter who is using drugs, though it comes out that he smokes marijuana, only “carefully” so as not to get caught. Frederic also confirms the often-suspected secret that his mother had an extramarital, incestuous affair with her uncle, the famous artist.
SUMMER HOURS is engaging, but small on plot. It’s very realistic in that scenes are staged very normally without much dramatic tension, much as circumstances unfold in life. The goal seems to be to allow the viewer into the family’s conversations as the members deal with the death of their mother. This comes off as interesting but not overly cinematic. The performances are very subtle, but profound.
The movie has disturbing content in that, in the end, teenagers are shown having a party at their grandmother’s old house, which includes drugs and alcohol. The house is where their grandmother had the affair with her uncle, thereby suggesting that the family’s sexual immorality will continue. However, the movie makes light of this. In fact, the parents chuckle that their teenagers are having an unchaperoned weekend party.
Fans of French cinema may enjoy the performances in this character study, but SUMMER HOURS will be rather slow for most American audiences. Also, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution because there is hardly any moral outrage in it.
SUMMER HOURS is dramatically engaging, but small on plot. The performances are very subtle, but profound. The movie has disturbing content, however, where teenagers are shown having a party at their grandmother’s old house, which includes drugs and alcohol. The house is where their grandmother had the affair with her uncle. This suggests that the family’s immorality will continue. Fans of French cinema may enjoy the performances, but the movie will be rather slow for most American audiences. MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution because there is hardly any morality in this French character study.