Summer Hours (‘L’Heure d’Été’)

DRAMA; 1hr 42min (French with subtitles)

STARRING: Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, Jérémie Renier

Estate duties: from left, Renier, Binoche and Berling

The subjective truths of a family’s history are the through-line in writer-director Olivier Assayas’s look at three 40-plus siblings variously moving on with their lives. While they are too busy to see much of each other, designer Adrienne (Binoche), economist Frédéric (Berling) and businessman Jérémie (Renier) are close to their sparky 75-year-old mother, Hélène (Edith Scob). When Hélène dies, leaving a picturesque country house and a valuable collection of furniture and artworks, including those of her adored artist uncle, it falls to her three very different offspring to work out how to deal with it all, rarely a cut-and-dried task.


Assayas is a graceful film-maker and the prosaic back and forth of to-do details is fluid and involving. While never overstated, his point rings poignantly true: since possessions and memories are usually so closely tied, disposing of family treasures is tantamount to dismantling the past — a disquieting contradiction in terms.