Movie review: Summer Hours

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Not many can claim to own a valuable private art collection like the one driving Olivier Assayas' intimate family drama Summer Hours, but the feelings and secrets it unveils should be familiar to most.

The collection lives with Helene (Edith Scob), the 75-year-old matriarch ensconced in the French country home once owned by her uncle, a respected artist.

Upon her sudden death, her three children - Parisian economist Frederic (Charles Berling), China-based Puma executive Jeremie (Jeremie Renier) and Adrienne (Juliette Binoche), a designer living in New York - are put in the uncomfortable position of deciding what to do with the house and its belongings.

Only Frederic has an attachment to it, with his children in mind, but ultimately the family must move on.

With an extraordinarily light but deeply felt touch, Assayas touches on an ambitious range of issues through the scenario, from familial dynamics to the impact of globalization, the value of a culture's legacy to the way each of us leaves a mark on the world. With this comes a common fear about how easily that mark can be erased.

The effect is something like looking at a great, complex work of art. It can be hard to put into words - perhaps language just can't translate - but the soul feels nourished by the experience.

"Summer Hours"

Opens Friday at the Drexel

Grade: A