Summer of Sam (1999)
Reviewed on 2007 March 26
I watched this knowing Spike Lee didn’t tackle the investigation of David Berkowitz — I think a lot of people expected that, or a conventional thriller, and I knew he took a different approach. Content-wise I knew what I’d be getting, but it still wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. I loved Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X. This could have been so much better.
Lee focused more on the toll taken by heat, the fear Berkowitz inflicted, and the feeling of being stuck with few opportunities in New York. Vinny (John Leguizamo) can’t be faithful to his wife, Dionna (Mira Sorvino), despite the supposed guilt he feels. Richie (Adrien Brody) is struggling to get his career on track as a punk rocker. Worse, some men in the community with double-digit IQs start making cribsheets of possible suspects for the Son of Sam, using such scientific criteria as whether or not they have funny eyes. Even poor Richie comes under their radar because he spikes his hair, and never mind they knew him all their lives.
You can feel the tension and the paranoia, but the movie really didn’t seem to go anywhere. The other problem is I really wouldn’t have cared if it did. We didn’t get much insight into the characters and none of the characters were really sympathetic, except for poor Richie. Also, the acting was good but the script was kind of weak. It relied more on f-bombs than anything else. It’s not that I have a problem with that — I’m personally waiting for the Scorsese DVD PartyPak — but there should be some one-liners, good quotes, you know, something. Nope. The acting and the creepy mood were the only things this had going for it.
Two chocolate morsels. Eh, watch it on cable.