Volume 78 - Number 51 / May 27 - June 2 , 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“Summer Hours” (+)

I was looking forward to seeing this film and was very glad that I did. The show was sold out when I saw it on a Saturday evening — the weekend it opened at the IFC Center at 3rd Street and 6th Avenue.

As I waited in line to enter the theater, a couple in their 60s or 70s who had just seen the film recognized me and began to discuss the movie. He said he was very disappointed and didn’t think it was as good as the reviews he had read. I hoped the movie would be as good or better than the reviews, but I knew one would have to be open to the subject matter.

The story is about an elderly woman, Helene Berthier (Edith Scob), and her family members gathered together at her country estate in France. At her advanced age, Helene knows that she must prepare for death and decide how she would like to dispose of her property — valued art works and furniture. She discusses the matter with her oldest son, Frederic (Charles Berling), who is uncomfortable talking about the subject.

After Helene’s demise, other issues are discussed including what to do with the property. Frederic wants to keep the home in their family. His unmarried sister, Adrienne (Juliette Binoche), who lives in New York City most of the year, and his younger brother, Jeremie (Jeremie Renier), who will be living in China with his wife and children, want to sell the house and its belongings. The possessions are divided, and the sibling’s decision to sell the home is followed by Helene’s grandchildren and their friends throwing a wild party at the home.

I identified with Helene, who wanted to put her affairs in order in contemplation of death. At the age of 84, I have no fear of dying — which is a part of life. I have had discussions with my sister about the distribution of my estate, and I have prepared the text of the tombstone that will mark my grave.

I recommend that you see this picture, if you are emotionally ready.  (In French, with English subtitles.)

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