Parts of "Summer Hours" feel very much like real life, which is both the film's strength and its ultimate weakness.
The sense of realism can only sustain this downbeat French drama for so long. After a while it feels like you're really spending nearly two hours with your squabbling siblings.
Also, the film's obsession over seeming minutiae makes it feel like that much time is being spent with squabbling, obsessive-compulsive siblings.
Still, there's no denying that the film features a terrific cast.
Veteran French actors Charles Berling, Juliette Binoche and Jeremie Renier star as the aforementioned siblings. They are, respectively, Frederic, Adrienne and Jeremie.
Their mother, Helene (Edith Scob), has recently passed away and has left her home and all of its belongings to them. That includes some very valuable art treasures.
The oldest, the fiscally conservative Frederic, would like to keep the house and the art intact — so any and all future family generations can enjoy them.
Younger brother Jeremie could use the cash, though, which leaves the flighty and usually undependable middle child, Adrienne, as the deciding vote.
Surprisingly, screenwriter/director Olivier Assayas (2004's "Clean") resolves that dilemma pretty quickly.
And the sibs' spats aren't nearly as heated as they probably would be in real life.1 comment on this story
However, Berling is terrific as both the family and the film's emotional center.
It would have been nice to get more time with Binoche's bleached-blonde Adrienne, who remains a bit of a cipher.
"Summer Hours" is not rated but would probably receive a PG-13 for drug content and references (marijuana), as well as a scene of underage drinking, scattered profanity (mostly mild curse words), derogatory language and slurs, some suggestive language and references (slang), some brief sexual contact, and glimpses of nude statues and paintings. Running time: 103 minutes.