The Journey with Jesus: Film Reviews
Film Reviews by Dan Clendenin
Summer Hours (2009)—French
This film opens with three generations of a French family enjoying the summer in the matriarch's country home. Kids scream and dogs bark. To Frederic, the only one of Helene's three children that still lives in France, she insists upon talking about what to do with the house and its considerable artistic contents after she is gone. After all, she's devoted much of her life to keeping the memory of her uncle, a famous French artist-collector, by preserving this house with his works. Frederic assures her it will be so, for he too wants to keep the house for future generations. But Jeremie lives in Beijing making sneakers and Adrienne lives in New York; they admit that they are likely never to return to France, and that they care nothing for the house. They need the money from the estate sale. After Helene dies and the contents are auctioned to collectors and museums, we're shocked to see the obvious, that a vase lovingly filled with fresh flowers by the house keeper Eloise becomes an inanimate object in a museum. In some significant way the house made a home for the family, but now it is gone. And as the final scene suggests, it's impossible to freeze history and hold on to an idealized and idyllic notion of what constitutes family. In French with English subtitles.