Summer Hours (review)

What is the value of stuff? Perhaps it’s not at all paradoxical that as some of us begin to reject the rampant consumerism into which our culture has descended, the idea that at least some of our crap is not crap will start to see more play. As in writer-director Olivier Assayas’ (Demonlover) heartbreaking meditation on the worth of our things, which explicitly rejects the idea that made-in-China, made-to-be-scraped junk is worth our sentiment while embracing with melancholy bittersweetness the notion that even very pricey objets — like, say, an art vase — are priceless only in what they mean to us as everyday items, for the memories attached to them. After the death of their mother (Edith Scob: Bon Voyage), three siblings (Juliette Binoche [Dan in Real Life], Charles Berling, and Jérémie Renier [In Bruges]) face the daunting prospects of what to do with her rambling cottage in the French countryside, which is chock full of important works both created by and collected by her uncle, a famous painter. Deeply moving in its subtle journey through regrets, memories, and the profound affection that inanimate objects can inspire in us, this lovely film may leave you pondering what’s really important to you, too, and why. (available on IFC on Demand)

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