Total Film - 02/01/2009 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]ough, tender and very talky. Intimately observed and told with an inquisitive, prodding camera..."
Box Office - 04/23/2009 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] masterful movie....Assayas presents a contemplative etude on the passage of time and the markings of material and spiritual loss."
Entertainment Weekly - 05/22/2009
"Director Oliver Assayas' tender, sun-kissed, Chekhovian drama brims with life and loveliness even as it meditates on the loss of childhood." -- Grade: A
New York Times - 05/15/2009
"[An] extraordinary film....Packed nearly to bursting with rich meaning and deep implications."
USA Today - 05/15/2009 3 stars out of 4 -- "This bittersweet meditation on familial bonds, the passage of youth and the merits of tradition is deeply nuanced and strikes just the right emotional notes....The four main portrayals are outstanding, so natural and believable that you are drawn in to their story immediately."
A.V. Club - 05/14/2009
"SUMMER HOURS has an appealingly lyrical look, and is well-acted by a cast of French cinema vets..." -- Grade: B+
Chicago Sun-Times - 05/20/2009 3 stars out of 4 -- "What happens is that the film builds its emotional power by stealth, indirectly, refusing to be a tearjerker, always realistic, and yet observing how very sad it is to see a large part of your life disappear."
Washington Post - 05/22/2009
"[A] warmhearted family drama....The lineage of SUMMER HOURS, with its exploration of the changing traditions of family life, stretches all the way back to Chekhov..."
Wall Street Journal - 05/29/2009
"Much of SUMMER HOURS, which was shot by the excellent Eric Gautier, feels like a Chekhov play and resonates like Schubert quartet; it's a work of singular loveliness."
Los Angeles Times - 06/04/2009
"SUMMER HOURS proves a sharply incisive, yet poignant look at how we decide what bits of our past to keep and what to let go of."
USA Today - 12/31/2009 Ranked #10 in USA Today's "Top Ten Films Of 2009."
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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