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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New video interview with Assayas
  • A short documentary featuring interviews with Assayas and actors Charles Berling and Juliette Binoche, and showing the cast and crew on set
  • Inventory, an hour-long documentary by Olivier Gonard, shot partly in Paris's Musťe d'Orsay, that examines the film's approach to art
  • Theatrical trailer

Summer Hours

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Olivier Assayas
Starring: Juliette Binoche
2008 | 103 Minutes | Licensor: IFC Films

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #513
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: April 20, 2010
Review Date: April 9, 2010

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SYNOPSIS

Widely hailed by critics as 2009's best film, Summer Hours is the great contemporary French filmmaker Olivier Assayas's most personal film to date. Three siblings, played by Juliette Binoche, Charles Berling, and Jťrťmie Renier, must decide what to do with the country estate and objects they've inherited from their mother. From this simple story, Assayas creates a nuanced, exquisitely made drama about the material of globalized modern living. Naturalistic and unsentimental yet suffused with genuine warmth, this is that rare film that pays respect to family by treating it with honesty.

Forum members rate this film 8.5/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Criterionís Blu-ray edition of Summer Hours presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on this dual-layer Blu-ray disc. The transfer is presented in 1080p/24hz.

The filmís stylistic choices are beautifully rendered here and the transfer comes off looking fairly film-like. Colours are vivid and saturated perfectly with blacks that are rather deep and inky, and detail and definition are excellent, with maybe a few softer spots here and there. During moments where the bright light source in a scene threatens to wipe out everything the transfer still manages to hold together, keeping a high amount of detail and presenting nothing in the way of noticeable artifacts.

Film grain is still intact and the source materials are very clean with only a few minor marks I just happened to notice while watching. In all, itís a beautiful looking transfer, presenting the filmís look exceptionally well.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The French lossless DTS-HD 5.1 surround track was actually a bit of a surprise considering the quiet and subtle nature of the film. Music is understated but fills the sound field beautifully, as do various sound effects ranging from traffic in the streets, birds in the trees, or the wind in the fields, with everything sounding to move naturally around the viewer with crystal clarity. Dialogue also sounds sharp and crisp, very natural and with no distortion. Itís a track that doesnít really call attention to itself, coming off very subtle, but it offers a surprisingly immersive experience while viewing the film.

I do have to say that when it comes to comparing sound Iím not the best, lacking the ear of a true audiophile, though Iím still amazed at how much better a lossless audio track can be when compared to a Dolby Digital one, and here I was truly shocked by the difference. Though itís unfair to compare the Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track found on the DVD edition of the film to the DTS-HD track on this Blu-ray, I have to comment on how much more immersive and rich this track is in comparison, quite a bit beyond what I was expecting. The clarity seems so much better and the splits feel a bit more natural. It seems bizarre that on a quiet film I noticed a bigger difference than with some other films, but maybe for me to notice that speaks that much higher about the track on here. Itís not one thatís going to be ďdemoĒ material, thatís for sure, but itís really quite effective and one that really impressed me.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Unfortunately we get a disappointingly sparse selection of supplements with this edition, starting with a 29-minute interview with director Olivier Assayas filmed exclusively for Criterion. He talks a bit about his previous films and then moves quickly into how Summer Hours came to be, which was originally intended to be part of an abandoned omnibus feature showcasing the Musťe d'Orsay, expanding from that (as did Hsiao-hsien Houís Flight of the Red Balloon.) He talks about the themes of the film, specifically the central theme of the relationship between people and objects, and even recalls his own family history and how it influenced the film. He also offers details about scouting for the house that eventually appeared in the film and how he had to adapt the script to it. Assayas is an engaging interviewee and he keeps the piece interesting and light but at the same time informative, also opening my eyes to a few minor things within the film that I missed.

Not as enthralling is the Making-of, which I would guess was produced for the French DVD edition since itís an MK2 production, though I cannot confirm this. At any rate itís a fairly fluffy piece, despite some decent interviews. Itís made up of a lot of clips and has some intriguing behind-the-scenes moments mixed in with interview clips with Assayas and actors Charles Berling and Juliette Binoche (who both talk about their characters and acting in general) but feels more like a promotional piece, despite the 26-minute runtime, and doesnít feel like a true making-of feature.

Thankfully the next feature makes up for it. Called Inventory, this 51-minute documentary offers a surprisingly enthralling look at the artwork and furniture that appears in the film. We get interviews with a few people from the Musťe d'Orsay, who go a bit into how this film came about originally from a desire to do an omnibus piece celebrating their 20th anniversary and how the museum participated in the making of the film. What actually surprised me the most was that the pieces of furniture and artwork that appear in the film were real, loaned out by the museum for the film. Thereís information on how the sketches of the fictional painter thatís central to the film, Paul Berthier, came about and where their inspirations came from, and thereís also an interesting section on the process of donating pieces to a museum in France and ďacceptance in lieuĒ that helps people get out of paying inheritance or estate taxes. It also offers some very brief art history on the various real artists that are mentioned in the film. It was actually quite breezy and for me incredibly interesting, possibly the best feature on here. Definitely the one worth watching.

The accompanying booklet then includes a rather lengthy essay on the film and the work of Assayas overall, which makes for a decent read.

And that covers it. Itís unfortunately slim, though Iím not sure what else could have been included. But considering thereís less than two-hoursí worth of material on here it does end up making the edition (both the DVD and Blu-ray) feel a little overpriced.

6/10

CLOSING

I think the supplements are slim with only two of the three really worth watching, but the transfer is very nice, perfectly presenting the film. I feel itís a little overpriced and think Criterion should look at setting up the sort of tier structure in pricing they have done with their DVDs for their Blu-rays. But past that it does otherwise look and sound great, which will be more than enough for most viewers.


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