Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Hours (L'heure d'été)

Over the weekend I saw Summer Hours (L'heure d'été), a family drama by director Olivier Assayas. The film opens & closes with 2 lively party scenes occurring in a French country house. In between, we witness the ramifications of the death of a family matriarch, whose passing away symbolizes the end of an era, a genteel era infused with a 19th century sense of aesthetics & propriety. The movie proceeds unhurriedly, without climaxes or theatrical moments. It's about character & situations rather than plot or dramatic conflict. The interest is in the personalities of 3 siblings & the disposition of the art objects owned & loved by their mother. The performances are all very naturalistic & understated. Edith Scob as the elegantly aging matriarch Hélène really does seem to have come from another century.

I was surprised by the good attendance The Clay, although a young & slightly tipsy couple did come in after the movie started & made a slight stir as they looked for seats. After a half hour of whispering in bemusement, they realized this was not the movie for them & left.

Annoyingly, the print at the Clay has subtitles printed in thin white letters. These were often washed out by the bright colors of the movie itself, rending the dialog illegible. I'm surprised that subtitling technology is still so poor.

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