October 6, 2008

NYFF. Summer Hours.

Summer Hours "Olivier Assayas has said that his intention with Summer Hours [site] was to return home and make a “French film” in the wake of his globetrotting trilogy of demonlover, Clean and Boarding Gate," notes Jeff Reichert in Reverse Shot. "[H]e doesn't seek to dampen the bustle of everyday life and contain it with his camera, rather, like Hou Hsiao-hsien he reacts to the rhythms of a gathering with deft sensitivity. This setup is all very universal in its generalities, but the particulars couldn't be more (stereo)typically 'French' - mission accomplished, Olivier."

"With a gentler touch than he's shown recently - the French are remarkably humane and accessible this year - Assayas draws these siblings into a delicate opposition," writes John Magary in the Reeler. "Jérémie [Jérémie Renier] oversees production in China and Adrienne [Juliette Binoche] lives with her husband in New York, leaving Frédéric [Charles Berling], the film's anchor, to maintain the family's last vestige of a traditional 'French' existence. When the question of keeping the house comes up, guess who wants to keep it and guess who doesn't? Thematically, this could easily slip into convenient commentary: Globalization pulls a family apart, then comes back for the goods. But the days gone by take primacy, and the film settles into an inevitable patience, wrestling bittersweetly with the past."

"If Boarding Gate convincingly documented a 21st century where human beings can be bought, sold, and shipped from New York to Paris to Hong Kong like shares on the NASDAQ, Summer Hours is the sobering requiem for the safety of objects, for the shape and weight of everything we leave behind when we give in to perpetual flux." Akiva Gottlieb in Slant: "Together the two films offer a deeply affecting inquiry into the meaning (and market necessity) of attachment in an age of unfettered globalization."

"Assayas's story grapples with the way places and spaces function as vessels for personal pasts, and how those locations also hold within them dreams of the future," writes Nick Schager. "With a sly, deft touch marked by elegant fade-outs between his vignettes, as well as sustained takes that give conversations room to naturally stretch, mature and evolve, Assayas expresses the melancholy of childhood's ultimate end as well as globalization's reconfiguration of traditional notions of self, family and history through the creation of a mobile, geographically and culturally untethered citizenry."

"The camera frequently dollies up to a door, slightly ajar or open, but very rarely moves through it, as if to suggest the inability of these characters to make an active decision," notes Ed Champion. "This intriguing visual psychology anchors the film thematically, but Assayas's ending, which involves something of a handover of the home to free market forces and the next generation, suggests a stylistic imbalance between characters and theme. The cherry picking is intended to connote Chekhov, but it's far more literal-minded in its execution."

"There are tears in Summer Hours, but there is also the quiet acceptance of the passage of time, and the sense that no matter how hard you may hold on to the past, it will eventually fall away from your grip," writes Jenny Jediny at Not Coming to a Theater Near You.

"Beautifully calibrated, the quiet wisdom of Summer Hours cuts deep, and anybody with a family ought to be able to relate," writes Jürgen Fauth.

Online listening tip. Film Comment's Evan Davis talks with Assayas.

Update, 10/11: Online viewing tip. FilmCatcher interviews Assayas.

Update, 10/25: "There are no easy or right answers, just honest, flawed ones," writes Eric Hynes for Stop Smiling. "With the help of cinematographer Eric Gautier, Assayas moves through space and time with a fluidity that at first feels light but grows heavier from accumulated detail and from the heightened, tragic sense that what we see before us is changing, and indeed may be gone before we understand it to be worth saving, loving, or remembering."

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Posted by dwhudson at October 6, 2008 10:31 AM