Summer of Sam (1999)

R   |    |  Crime, Drama, Romance


Summer of Sam (1999) Poster

Spike Lee's take on the "Son of Sam" murders in New York City during the summer of 1977 centering on the residents of an Italian-American Northeast Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another.

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6.6/10
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  • Adrien Brody in Summer of Sam (1999)
  • Mira Sorvino and John Leguizamo in Summer of Sam (1999)
  • Summer of Sam (1999)
  • Adrien Brody and Jennifer Esposito in Summer of Sam (1999)
  • Mira Sorvino and John Leguizamo in Summer of Sam (1999)
  • Mira Sorvino and John Leguizamo in Summer of Sam (1999)

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3 August 2006 | Flagrant-Baronessa
8
| You can almost feel the heat and dirt on your clothes as if you were right there in hot New York City
With films like 'Inside Man' and the upcoming 'Selling Time', it appears as though Spike Lee is departing from his gritty streetwise films on racial prejudice, and into the pleasant commercial world of Hollywood. He stills touches upon the odd racial issue today, as is his trademark, but they seem more like mandatory inclusions than anything else, being left unexplored and unimportant. This is not saying Summer of Sam is a lecture on racism or anything (in fact, it steers away from the topic), but it fits the gritty crime-infested streets style that Lee used to do so well.

Summer of Sam brutally zooms in on an Italian-American South Bronx neighbourhood in the summer of 1977 -- the hottest summer ever, a real killer. Lee does not shy away from sex, drugs, raunchy dialogue or violence in his portrayal of the events which are based on reality of the summer nights when Sam murdered women on the streets. As the Bronx inhabitants grow anxious and suspicious of the murders, Summer of Sam focuses its story on Vinny (John Lequizamo), his marriage with Dionna (Mira Sorvino) and his friends and we see how the killings affect their lives, while plating the "Son of Sam" himself in the backseat to make room for these dynamic characters.

I can admit that there is no strong point or focus in this film, but I don't think it's entirely necessary. It's a portrayal, and a realistic one at that -- it is also a portrayal of an era, the 1970s and this is most apparent in the flashy 54-styled nightclubs that Vinny and Dionna go to. It occasionally drags on, but this is good because it emphasizes the terrible heat and anxiousness of the city, making it almost nightmarish. It is so realistic that you can almost feel the heat and dirt on your clothes as if you were right there in steaming hot New York City. I therefore feel that a great deal of praise is due to a film that succeeds in being haunting without actually dealing with the murders head-on.

8/10

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