Olivier Assayas' Summer Hours offers an intimate, achingly beautiful meditation on family, inheritance (fiscal and spiritual), and generational change. Wildly different in scope and tone from the French director's recent trilogy of internationally flavored genre pics (Demonlover, Clean, and Boarding Gate), his Summer Hours is a mature and ultimately moving look at a family coming to terms with the looming death of its septuagenarian matriarch (an elegant Edith Scob).
Three siblings - a designer played by Juliette Binoche, an economist played by Charles Berling, and a globe-trotting businessman, Jérémie Renier - have gathered in the family's beautiful country house outside Paris. Surrounded by paintings, antiques, and museum-quality furniture (the legacy of their late uncle, a well-known artist), the three share memories of childhood in this idyllic spot. And they share their grief and regrets, their accomplishments and increasingly different world views as an unexpected conflict develops over what to do with the property.