Summer Hours


Universal acclaim - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 26 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27

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Critic Reviews

  1. Hats off to Olivier Assayas's plain yet hauntingly beautiful Summer Hours, a true--albeit nonsecular--meditation on art and eternal life.
  2. Brims with life and loveliness even as it meditates on the loss of childhood.
  3. 100
    In spite of its modest scale, tactful manner and potentially dowdy subject matter, is packed nearly to bursting with rich meaning and deep implication.
  4. It all comes together as formidably detailed and easy-breathing craftsmanship.
  5. 100
    Extraordinary 2008 French drama.
  6. It is filmmaker Assayas who is the star here. France's most important contemporary director has created a work of almost magisterial calm.
  7. 91
    A keenly observed, typically high-quality family drama of the sort only the French seem capable of making anymore.
  8. French films traditionally take France and its eternal appeal for granted. Summer Hours is the rare film that worries about that, worries about the future, and that proves to be invaluable.
  9. Summer Hours is a lovely rumination on the meaning of things, but one that remains rooted in its human subjects rather than the inanimate objects that are more easily graspable.
  10. 88
    Writer-director Olivier Assayas crafts a near perfect blend of humor and heartbreak, a lyrical masterwork that measures loss in terms practical and evanescent.
  11. Quietly and keenly observed, Summer Hours nods to Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" (a country estate, a family reunion, an impending sale). Assayas displays a lucid sense of how personal history and family identity are inextricably linked to a physical place - here, to a house that is still busy accumulating its memories.
  12. 83
    Its final scene is almost overpoweringly tender and beautiful, offering a hopeful rejoinder to all the prior scenes of family members shedding their shared legacy.
  13. Assayas conveys with great understatement an entire constellation of emotions in Summer Hours. I wouldn't have minded a little bit of overstatement.
  14. Assayas makes the point that objects of fascination and affection to one generation may be far less so to the next. And he observes the role that people-friendly museums can play in keeping a nation's treasures safe with pleasing subtlety.
  15. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    A family ensembler of utter simplicity, Oliver Assayas' Summer Hours is a salutory (and belated) reminder that, as with his earlier "Cold Water" and "Late August, Early September," some of this writer-director's best work comes in modest packages.
  16. 80
    The magic of Summer Hours is that even in its elusiveness, it gives us something to hang onto.
  17. Assayas and his cast hit so many perfect notes, you'll swear you've seen these characters and heard these conversations before - not in Chekhov's thematically similar "Cherry Orchard," which was an obvious influence, but in your own life.
  18. Much of Summer Hours, which was shot by the excellent Eric Gautier, feels like a Chekhov play and resonates like a Schubert quartet; it’s a work of singular loveliness.
  19. 75
    Summer Hours attracted two of France's acting luminaries, and their presence elevates the material. Charles Berling has the central role; the movie is largely told from his perspective. Juliette Binoche, with blonde hair, has a secondary part.
  20. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Each character is decent and likable, as well as complex. The four main portrayals are outstanding -- so natural and believable that you are drawn into their story immediately.
  21. 75
    The actors all find the correct notes. It is a French film, and so they are allowed to be adult and intelligent.
  22. 75
    The movie unfolds like something out of E.M. Forster, but Assayas isn't all that interested in family dynamics. Instead, he's made a chronicle of how the children will handle the sale of the house and its treasures.
  23. Audiences watch Summer Hours and then, a week later, remember it as though they've lived it.
  24. 70
    Too chatty to be ascetic, Summer Hours is nevertheless almost Ozu-like in its evocation of a parent's death and the dissolving bond between the surviving children. It's also an essay on the nature of sentimental and real value--as well as the need to protect French culture in a homogenizing world.
  25. 70
    In the end, Assayas, shooting the film with relaxed, flowing camera movements, gives his love not to beautiful objects but to the disorderly life out of which art is made.
  26. 70
    Assayas's actors are so fascinating that I wished at times he had given the house less screen time and let his performers explore their characters more freely.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 35 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 20
  2. Negative: 7 out of 20
  1. Jun 3, 2013
    My only previous Assayas’ approach is Maggie Cheung’s Cannes BEST ACTRESS nabbing feature CLEAN (2004, 7/10), and for most Chinese media,My only previous Assayas’ approach is Maggie Cheung’s Cannes BEST ACTRESS nabbing feature CLEAN (2004, 7/10), and for most Chinese media, Assayas seems to alway been in an ill-fated personage as Maggie’s ex-husband. But his works matures splendidly with finesse and sobriety (from CLEAN to SUMMER HOURS), the latter resounds a similar pace of meditation and quietude as Hirokazu Koreeda’s STILL WALKING (2008, 8/10), tackles with a slice of family life, with a contemplation towards the domestic heredity, globalized opportunism, alienated generations and art conservation.

    In dealing with a sentimental demise of a bourgeoise matriarch, who resides in a suburban villa near Paris with all her uncle’s art menagerie and his worthwhile sketching books (apparently he was a renowned painter himself and an unspeakable family secret), Assayas infills an indefatigable stamina to keep all the delicate matters in a civil restraint, the contradiction abounds among three siblings in regard to keep or sell the villa; and the proceedings of donating valuable art pieces has also been a bumpy road; for the elder son, he also has teenage children to worry about, and last but not the least, his abiding remembrance of the past is the most poignant blow to one who can fit into his shoes under the circumstances.

    The show has never been slid into a thespians’ melodrama notwithstanding the fact that its indulgence of a top-billing Gallic cast, a blonde Binoche incarnates a very light-touch casualness as the metropolitan daughter, living in USA and dedicates herself more in bringing the work of art abroad for the international exposure; Renier, the younger son, finds both an opportunity in settling down in China and an exigent situation in which the profit of selling the villa couldn’t come as timely as possible. While these two are soon-to-be-goners, without a pinch yearning for their homeland, the liability all falls on the elder brother (Berling), whose true-to-life embodiment of his character anchors the film’s backbone in a concrete formality, it is a prickly situation will come about to anyone eventually. Edith Scob, as the deceased mother, whose first 30-minutes appearance contrives to establish herself as an indomitable shadow encroached by the past, when she is gone, something else will be taken with her together and forever, Scob is pitch perfect in her role’s demanding of the physical infirmity, an unswerving mind of knowing her time is up and the duty as a bequeather.

    I have not conceal my preference to this quiet, reflective lifelike imitation than other more grandstanding razzle-dazzle, it is a simple film with a concise message delivered eloquently by the mastery of Assayas who auspiciously shoulders on the privilege of an auteur not only in the French terrain, but also as an international landmark, like many of his precedent compatriots.
    Full Review »
  2. May 28, 2013
    Oh the plight of the poor, poor pitiful rich French. Better than a sleeping pill. The acting was quite good as was theOh the plight of the poor, poor pitiful rich French. Better than a sleeping pill. The acting was quite good as was the cinematography......but the movie as whole zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Full Review »
  3. LeeR
    Aug 19, 2009
    My wife and I walked out, and I consider this one of the three worst serious movies I've ever seen.

    Unless you truly love a
    My wife and I walked out, and I consider this one of the three worst serious movies I've ever seen.

    Unless you truly love a "meditation" on something too ordinary to be called ordinary, where a crinkling of a brow constitutes major action, look elsewhere.

    If you think watching privileged people talk about, examine, catalogue, and discuss the family furniture and art collection, this one's for you.
    Full Review »