L'Heure d'été (Summer Hours)

2009

L'Heure d'été (Summer Hours)

Critics Consensus

Olivier Assayas' contemplative family drama handles lofty ideas about art and culture with elegance and lightness.

94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 106

70%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 19,200
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Movie Info

Three siblings must come to terms with their mother's mortality as they decide what to do with her valuable belongings in this warm family drama from filmmaker Olivier Assayas. Hélène Berthier (Edith Scob) is about to turn 75, and her children are gathering at her home in the country for a party. Adrienne (Juliette Binoche) has flown in from New York City, where she lives with her boyfriend, James (Kyle Eastwood). Jérémie (Jérémie Renier) has taken a rare break from his globe-trotting business interests to stop by with his wife (Valérie Bonneton). And Frédéric (Charles Berling), the only one who lives close enough to visit regularly, has also come with his spouse, Lisa (Dominique Reymond). Hélène has inherited a large and valuable collection of art from her brother, and with her health beginning to fail, she approaches Frédéric and asks that he, Jérémie, and Adrienne come up with a plan to deal with the pieces after her death. Frédéric wants to keep the collection together and see if they can persuade a gallery to purchase and present them as a set. Jérémie and Adrienne have other ideas, but as he's pondering a business opportunity in China and she's planning on settling in America for good, they don't have as much influence over the final decision as Frédéric. L'Heure d'Été (aka Summer Hours) was produced in part by the celebrated French art gallery Musée d'Orsay, and was one of a handful of films created to honor the museum in its 20th anniversary year.

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Critic Reviews for L'Heure d'été (Summer Hours)

All Critics (106) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (100) | Rotten (6)

  • Assayas' script is more allusive than demonstrative, with a distinct whiff of Eric Rohmer in its conversational blocks separated by fadeouts.

    Dec 16, 2009 | Full Review…

    Derek Elley

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • n Summer Hours, Olivier Assayas's gently provocative rumination on family and possessions, a trio of siblings wrestles with the problem of what to do with the old homestead once Mother is gone.

    Aug 23, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Evocative look at a family trying to decide what to do with its treasures.

    Jun 19, 2009
  • Where a Hollywood film of a family feuding over a fabulous estate would surely end with a slapped face and an infantry charge of lawyers, Assayas's work concludes with a smile and a shrug. Life goes on. What else can it do?

    Jun 19, 2009 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Performances in this small and profoundly eloquent film are superb, yet none redirects attention from Assayas's earnest meditation on the ravaging effects of a shrinking world on family traditions and entrenched personal relationships.

    Jun 19, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • This is a movie that, for all its once-over-lightliness, stays with one. Given what it's about, and the intelligence of its makers, how could it not?

    Jun 11, 2009 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for L'Heure d'été (Summer Hours)

  • Oct 30, 2012
    A touching portrait of a family coming to grips with the remnants of childhood after the passing of the matriarch. A difficult situation that many of us have had the misfortunate of having to endure in regular life.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 14, 2011
    If you are a fan of personal and small scale family dramas then "Summer Hours" is a true treat and one of the most heartfelt and touching films I've viewed as of recently. The film looks at one family, a rather large one, consisting of a mom and her three children along with their families all revolving around the mother's beautiful country estate. In this estate there are many artistic pieces ranging from furniture, paintings, glassware, sculptures and much more all with some value; sentimental or financially valuable. The mom is sensing her mortality and tries to talk to her children, most notably her eldest Frederic who is the only one living in France still, about what comes after her passing. The subject proves a little much and it is pushed aside as their families are all moving about and have much going on while their mother sits in her estate of memories with only the housekeeper to keep her company. Shortly after a big party in which the mom had all her children over and tried discussing her will and plans, she sadly dies and the children are forced to confront and settle everything that they have put out of their minds for so long. It really is a poignant and touching Drama that shows both a personal look into one families dilemmas and situation but makes it universally applicable in the viewer's own personal life and family situations. The film really touched me and touched upon many situations and complications in my own family and really spoke to me at a very deep level. I would certainly recommend this to anyone as pretty much anyone who devotes the short film length and engages with it, can pull something useful that they may have been pushing away too.
    Chris B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 25, 2011
    Even with a couple of plot lines that end up in blind alleys, "Summer Hours" is a poignant and touching look at the passage of time in a single family as it moves further apart, with jumps in time from sequence to sequence. It starts innocently enough with the 75th birthday celebration for Helene(Edith Scob) where she tells her oldest, Frederic(Charles Berling, who is excellent), an economist and writer, what she would like to happen to her house and belongings once she dies, forgetting what happened to King Lear when he tried something similar. It's actually more important than just a simple family matter, as she lives in a veritable museum that the Musee D'Orsay covets due to her uncle being a famous painter in his day. Frederic is stuck with the job because he is the only one still living in France while his siblings Adrienne(Juliette Binoche) and Jeremie(Jeremie Renier) live and work abroad. Frederic's intention is to keep the home where they all grew up in the family. To the movie's credit, they act like a real family as the siblings joke about old memories shared between them. All of whom are entering the stage in their lives where they are now the oldest in their families, to paraphrase "The Sopranos." In the end, "Summer Hours," in its own simple way, reminds us that all things come to an end, with all that is left is memories and a badly tended grave.
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Feb 20, 2011
    A kindly matriarch leaves her palatial country estate to her three grown children who, after her death, debate whether or not to sell and what is lost if they do. The concept for the film is strong, and by and large, the performances are subtle, nuanced, and strong. However, the film is simply too slow. At about the beginning of the second act, we've already figured out the film's theme and have a very good idea about how it's going to end, and for the last hour, we're waiting for the film to catch up to its audience.
    Jim H Super Reviewer

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