On face value, you'd be mistaken for believing that Spike Lee's lesser-known film 'Summer Of Sam' is a docudrama or thriller surrounding a series of murders carried out by David Berkowitz in the Summer of 1977 in New York. Whilst these slayings do provide a background to the film, the focus is actually on a close knit group of people reacting to the possibility of becoming the unknown murderer's next victim. Although it isn't your typical thriller, suspense is created with the characters wondering who they can trust.
The plot relies heavily on the relationship between married, but unfaithful man Vinny (John Leguizamo) and punk rocker Ritchie (Adrien Brody), two friends who, due to their lives, interests and principles changing, are growing further apart. With Leguizamo, Brody, as well as Mira Sorvino, and Jennifer Esposito, you'd expect excellent performances, and won't be disappointed.
Lee brilliantly captures the disco club scene in New York at the time, with outrageous behaviour from rampant hard drug use to lots of casual, meaningless sex, needless to say there's plenty of violence and salty language throughout. The cinematography and overall sound of the film, with a fantastic soundtrack which crams in an impressive list of many hit songs, is so good, that I forgot I was watching a movie shot in 1999 a number of times. It's all so realistic that you'll feel that you were there with these characters in the Summer of 1977, which was the hottest Summer ever.
'Summer Of Sam' was not what I was expecting, but I enjoyed it very much for what it is, an excellent snapshot of the time and a focus on interesting people's lives and feelings. It's a long film, and sometimes it does drag on, but it's still one of those films you just have to tick off your list to see.