Summer Hours

Summer Hours (L’heure d’été) is a 2008 French film about three adult siblings who must decide what to do with their family’s summer house and the museum-quality art objects they have inherited from their mother.

The film explores the differences in the lives of a family from one generation to the next, the connections the objects have on the siblings and what they think their mother’s connection to them was, and how they choose to deal with both the objects and their feelings.

The mother recognizes her children’s disparate lives and has anticipated the sale of the home and the donation of the art after her death; the children have to deal with the reality of that.

The characters are intelligent and have complex emotions; the family comes together as a unit at the same time as the individual members live very different lives, personally and geographically.

The elder son is the most sentimental and decries the loss of his mother, the house, and the objects that make up his most cherished memories. He would like his life to continue on the way it was, with the siblings sharing the house, after his mother has died. His sister and brother live abroad, the sister in the U.S. and the younger brother in China, and they want to get rid of things as quickly as possible and move on with their lives.

There is the question of what France means to the siblings since two of them live abroad, but the core issue is what each of us deals with every day: What do our family objects mean to us and can we keep the memories they evoke as we disperse the items? Can we honor the owner of the objects without revering the objects? How do “keepers” and “throwers” cooperate so that everyone feels included in the process?

This is a quiet yet intense film on a subject dear to our hearts.

LH

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