Summer Of Sam


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Summer Of Sam
"The film is directionless and charmless."

When it comes to serial killers, the real ones are less interesting. The Son of Sam, who terrorised New York during the blistering summer of '77, blew away snogging couples with a .44 handgun because some dog told him to. The guy was nuts.

In the movie, he is portrayed as a sweaty overweight loner, who likes to throw furniture around. His murders are haphazard, as if he doesn't care. Lovers in cars are easy, parked in secluded spots with other things on their minds.

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This is a most unlikely project for Spike Lee. It concentrates on the Italian community, even has a stereotypical Mafia boss (Ben Gazarra) in tow, and totally ignores his black brothers, with the exception of baseball star Reggie Jackson, who is under suspicion from neighbourhood layabouts because he has the number 44 on his Yankees shirt.

Vinnie (John Leguizamo) and Dionna (Mira Sorvino) are married. He cuts hair at a beauty salon, she waits tables at her dad's restaurant. He cheats on her the whole time, because he can't help himself. She worries about their sex life and thinks it's her fault.

Vinnie's mates are loudmouth macho types, who treat women like trophies. Ritchie (Adrien Brody) is different. He's a guitarist in a punk band, who has the sexiest girl in the movie (Jennifer Esposito) after him, despite being closet gay. All of them are into Son-of-Sam paranoia, like the rest of the city, but mostly they banter insults and talk tough.

The film is directionless and charmless. There is no thriller element, as the Son of Sam appears as a shadow under street lamps before blasting some innocent kids onto the cover of The Post.

The cops are lazy and out-to-lunch. Vinnie's story has more to do with a runaway libido than anything else, while the murderer bumbles about in his own dark madness. Spike Lee is so wrong for this. There are moments when you think he's taking revenge, because the Italian Americans are depicted as stupid sex-crazed morons. Leguizamo, for one, deserves better.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Summer Of Sam packshot
Spike Lee focusses his camera on the summer when Son of Sam roamed the streets.
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Director: Spike Lee

Writer: Victor Colicchio, Michael Imperioli, Spike Lee

Starring: John Leguizamo, Adrien Brody, Mira Sorvino, Jennifer Esposito, Michael Rispoli, Saverio Guerra, Brian Tarantina, Al Palagonia, Ken Garito, Bebe Neuwirth, Patti LuPone, Mike Starr, Anthony LaPaglia, Ben Gazzara, Roger Guenveur Smith

Year: 1999

Runtime: 142 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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