Double feature: “Summer Hours” and “Howards End” are two films that heft the weight of familial homes – and the objects they contain – in their elegant hands, giving proper due to their significant emotional mass. Both films ask when, if ever, the spirit of a home leaves its physical confines and moves exclusively into the memory palaces of the heart.
Both films highlight the intensely personal, even idiosyncratic, manner in which memory interweaves itself around places and objects. In this way, both point to the impossibility of using external demonstrations of attachment to gauge the true depth of someone’s feelings for home.
The two films employ their nuanced view of domestic affairs to test the line between desecration and honest use of a family legacy, and to ask whether the true heirs of an ancestral home must always be blood relations.
In both films, we watch family members grapple with the execution of their departed loved ones’ wishes – wishes stated or implied, those committed to law or that can only be guessed at – as they, and time, move forward.
(Creative Commons licensed original images courtesy of “simone-walsh” and “lynn.wabbit” at Flickr)