Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Actor That Ate Summer Hours

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2009 at 1:21 PM

86e4/1242317714-summerhours_renier_binoche_berling.jpgI very much second (or, actually, first) Michael Rowin's rave L mag review of Olivier Assayas' Summer Hours, which opens tomorrow. It's been quite rewarding to see people queueing up to express their genuine affection for this instantly familiar, well thought-out, warmhearted movie. Around the time of its showing at last fall's NYFF, and again this spring, the same half-dozen stills from the movie — everybody's getting their art from the same press site; IFC Films generally only offers a few, so there's always overlap when they release a movie that everybody wants to give play to — anyway, these same stills keep showing everywhere, like old friends or, in keeping with the movie, familiar objects.

But, wowee zowee, who picked out these stills.

The one picture, which I cringe at posting, is the one you're most likely to see accompanying a review of the movie, as it's the only one to feature all three of the siblings played by the film's three biggest stars: Jérémie Renier, Juliette Binoche and Charles Berling. If you're unfamiliar with Berling — who Rowin singles out Berling's "remarkably vulnerable" work as Summer Hours' protagonist — from his many fine performances for some of France's leading filmmakers, he's easy to spot in this ubiquitous photo: he's the one sporting the hideous death-mask rictus grin.

I mean, Jesus. I've had nightmares about the god-awful grimace, Berling's face looks hollow and demonic, like dead tissue slapped onto a skull and reanimated to devour the live flesh of promiscuous teens who took a wrong turn somewhere back around Albuquerque. What gives? "Let's make sure that the most frequently used still from this movie makes everyone shiver involuntarily at the sight of our protagonist, and not see the movie because they're worried it's secretly a Saw sequel where Juliette Binoche gets tortured for hours."

Well, it's not. She isn't. See it!

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