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  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
  • 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 Musée d'Orsay, that examines the film's approach to art
  • Theatrical trailer

Summer Hours

Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

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

Release Information
DVD | 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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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 Jérémie 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 8.3/10


Discuss the film and DVD here   


Criterion’s DVD version of Summer Hours presents the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 on the first dual-layer disc of this two-disc set. The transfer has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

In all this a surprisingly stellar standard-def transfer from Criterion, which I would guess comes from the same high-def transfer used for the Blu-ray. Though it does have some noise and can look fuzzy in one or two sequences, it’s a surprisingly clean transfer as a whole. Detail is quite good and the picture remains sharp through most of the film. Colours are also rendered rather well here, though the Blu-ray certainly does a better job with certain colours, myself thinking of the orange sweater that Binoche wears early on. Still, in terms of DVD’s limitations, it still pulls them off rather well.

The source materials are in excellent condition presenting only a few minor marks, though I was looking for them in the same location in comparison to where I noticed them in the Blu-ray. Amusingly enough, one mark I had noticed in the Blu-ray—just before Berling’s character enters the building of a lawyer’s office—appears very faintly here, whereas the Blu-ray’s higher resolution gave the mark more detail ultimately making it easier to spot. Not at all a criticism but I had to say I found it interesting how well DVD can hide such things because of the lack of resolution. But I digress.

In the end this is a very sharp standard-def transfer, that holds up fairly well to its Blu-ray counterpart.


All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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The Dolby Digital 5.1 track found here suits the film just fine. It’s a subtle film and the soundtrack never calls attention to itself. Dialogue remains in the fronts, sounding crisp and clean, and music fills out the environment rather nicely. Sound effects carry on through all the speakers, moving naturally between them, ranging from birds in trees to traffic to wind. It sounds quite good and volume levels are excellent.



Unfortunately we get a disappointingly sparse selection of supplements with this edition, all presented on the second dual-layer disc, 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 Musée d'Orsay, expanding from that (as did Hsiao-hsien Hou’s 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 it’s an MK2 production, though I cannot confirm this. At any rate it’s a fairly fluffy piece, despite some decent interviews. It’s 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 doesn’t 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 Musée 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. There’s information on how the sketches of the fictional painter that’s central to the film, Paul Berthier, came about and where their inspirations came from, and there’s also an interesting section on the process of donating pieces to a museum in France and “acceptance in lieu” 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. It’s unfortunately slim, though I’m not sure what else could have been included. But considering there’s less than two-hours’ worth of material on here it does end up making the edition (both the DVD and Blu-ray) feel a little overpriced.



With barely two-hour’s worth of supplements on here I think this two-disc set is a bit overpriced, though it surely does benefit the transfer to designate the entirety of the first disc to it, moving the supplements to the second disc. But in the end it is a nice edition, presenting a lovely transfer for the film and on that basis, along with the Inventory documentary, I do give it a recommendation.

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