L'heure d'Ete (12A)

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The Independent Culture

This small, impeccably civilised drama of familial inheritance recalls the late great works of master miniaturist Claude Sautet.

A beloved matriarch dies, leaving her three adult children to argue over the valuable collection of paintings and furniture she has bequeathed to them. The oldest brother (Charles Berling) clings to the old house and the two Corots that will have to be sold, while his far-flung siblings (Juliette Binoche, Jérémie Renier) have stronger attachments to their careers in America and Asia respectively.

The problems of an haut-bourgeois family might seem trivial in world terms, but Olivier Assayas's script asks deeper questions about ownership and the public purpose of art. Berling, as the melancholy nostalgist standing, Canute-like, before the waves of change, is especially good.