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Movie Review: Summer Hours (L'Heure D'Ete)

Alternate Title: Persistence of Memory

Story: If you are of a certain age and have gone through the life cycle where you have to bury a parent and decide what to do with those precious objects (be they art or trinkets) you will find much to like about this fine French film written and directed by Olivier Assayas. It is an intimate, meditative piece where not that much happens - yet it does.

It is an intimate simple story about 75 year old Helene, whose three adult children have to decide what to do with their childhood home, their mother's possessions and her legacy. Two of the siblings live abroad and have cut their emotional ties to their ancestral home. The oldest sibling wants to be the caretaker of their legacy. Is he out voted? How does their decision effect the rest of the family? Many topics are raised about whether important art pieces have any meaning once they are taken out of their home and placed in a museum.

Director of photography, Eric Gautier guides us through this amazing home outside of Paris with a tender touch. If you like your films a little slower than the usual summer fare, check out this lovely film.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXHMPOMv_FI

Acting: It doesn't seem fair that everyone in France seems to be thin, stylish and beautiful. Big sigh here. Juliette Binoche as Adrienne, is lovely and talented, as usual. Charles Berling as Frédéric and Jérémie Renier as Jérémie carry their roles to perfection. Edith Scob as Hélène is totally believable.

Trivia: In 1996, Juliette Binoche was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in The English Patient (1996). Legendary actress Lauren Bacall was roundly expected to win in that category for her performance in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), but Binoche won the Oscar instead, in one of the biggest surprise wins in Oscar history. In her acceptance speech, she said, "I don't have a speech prepared. I thought Lauren would get it." She is an avid painter. In 1994, she exhibited work done in collaboration with the designer Christian Fenouillat. She has also designed posters for a number of her movies including Les amants du Pont-Neuf (1991) and Les enfants du siècle (1999). Binoche is currently working on a poster for Country of My Skull (2004).

Predilection: None

Critters: Two beautiful Labs named Bijou and Pretzel.

Food: Oh, the French surely know how to eat. No fast food for this beautiful crowd. Food is featured in almost every scene.

Sex Spectrum: None

Opening Titles: I cannot remember.

Visual Art: A stunning array of art treasures including Corot, Degas, Rodin and more. The Musee d'Orsay is featured.

Theater Audience: Six other people.

Weather: Lovely

Drift Factor: I was attentive throughout.

Predictability Level: I was not sure what was going to happen.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Either would be fine.

Length: Under two hours.