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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sunday Movie Review: "Summertime" (1955)

Hello friends!

So for this week's SMR, I'm reviewing Summertime (1955). I'd seen parts of this film like two or three years ago and I hadn't remembered it as being particularly riveting though I love Kate Hepburn more than words can say. Anyways, as I'm now compulsively watching films in my free time (though there tends not to be a lot of it, thanks to school) to complete my 250 films goal, I found it on Youtube the other day and decided to give it a try. I'm really glad I did <3


The poster: When I first saw it, I wasn't all that crazy about it. And then I took a second look and realized I actually liked it, especially the sketch of Kate on the right, though I still find it a tad bit too wordy.

The plot:
Dreams of romance for American spinster Jane Hudson (Katharine Hepburn) become a bittersweet reality when she meets a handsome but married antiques dealer (Rossano Brazzi) while vacationing in Venice, Italy. David Lean directed this sensitive portrait of an independent woman who finds that, even in a beautiful European city, her sense of loneliness is unavoidable, and her initial disgust with the idea of an illicit love affair doesn't last. [from Netflix]

The starring players:
  • Katharine Hepburn as Jane Hudson
  • Rossano Brazzi as Renato de Rossi
The verdict:
★★★★ 1/2

I'm going to tell you right away, I really loved this movie (as you might be able to tell by my star rating). I mean, there are several faults in it, the more I think of it, but whilst watching I was honestly just too charmed and endeared with this film and so I'm going to stick with my original rating of giving it four and a half stars.

So sure, the plot isn't exactly original and it could use some work. But the setting of Venice, Italy is absolutely gorgeous. Italy is one of those places I lust about traveling to one day, and this film would honestly encourage you all the more to visit there. The absolutely gorgeous cinematography really seemed to capture the spirit and the color of the beautiful city. 

Setting the scene with Venice already gets the movie off to a good start, and then there is Katharine Hepburn. Oh my, this film just reminded me why I love Kate as much as I do. I like seeing her in this "spinster" role a lot. We usually associate Kate with the more strong willed, independent woman roles. So seeing her in a role as gentle, demure, and quiet as this is a novelty but definitely a treat. I love Kate in her usual roles but I really liked seeing her in this. Her character is quite fragile but she steals she show playing it. And at forty-eight, she is absolutely beautiful.

I had never seen anything with Rossano Brazzi before and I really liked him in this. I mean, he wasn't exceptional or anything - and he couldn't counter Kate in her spectacular performance - but I still liked him. (I mean, that accent, how can it not win you over?) His character in the beginning was a little awkwardly overbearing but you get to like him. And all the while you really want the two main characters to get together and when they do, it's so rewarding!

And then Kate and Brazzi as a couple were really exceptional I thought. They had some really sweet scenes together. Though they play more middle aged lovers, the spontaneity of their relationship was more of something you'd see in a pair of young lovers. I guess this could be annoying to some people but it didn't bother me all that much. I really liked the two of them as a pair, it was quite believable. Kate was actually eleven years older than Brazzi, which I didn't know until after I finished watching. I think they were really wonderful together.

The film basically centers around the two of them. There's an adorable young Italian boy who tags around Kate's character and the two really begin to bond. I liked his character a lot, he was just so cute!

You have all this, nicely glossed over with the theme of "Summertime in Venice". Now, I do see where the faults in this film are and they're certainly there. The romance is kind of rushed into the last half an hour of  the film I thought (though, to counter that, it was a very sweet thirty minutes). The plot lacks originality perhaps (it kind of reminded me of Now, Voyager, except with older lovers). It was slightly predictable, and you knew from the start that this relationship was bound to be bittersweet - so enjoy it while it lasts. The ending scene certainly broke my heart a little bit.

I was looking at the reviews for this film and a lot of people didn't like it all that much. And others enjoyed it but perhaps weren't raving about it as much as I am. I don't know, I guess it kind of put me under a spell or something. It just seemed so quiet and pretty. Kate was wonderful and it's enjoyable watching her delicate relationship with Brazzi grow.

The bottom line:
I don't really want to focus on the bad things about this movie because I just really liked it a whole lot. It was lovely, and it's Kate Hepburn like you've likely never seen her before. I strongly suggest you give this one a watch. I don't think it's the film that just anyone might really enjoy, maybe you have to be in the mood for it or something, but I definitely liked it a lot and I can't help but recommend it for you to watch. Even if you don't like Katharine Hepburn, give this one a try because she was certainly cast against type. 

Some photos:

Some trivia:
  • In her typical way, Kate didn't want to use a stunt actor for her fall into a Venetian canal in this film. So she did it herself, but the dirty water gave her an eye infection that would last her for the rest of her life. (You can read more about it here.)
  • This was David Lean's favorite out of all the films he did.
A movie tidbit:
Oh, I'm just going to post the whole thing. :)


That's all for this Sunday. Until later! :)


KimWilson said...

Unlike you, I don't like this film very much. It just doesn't work on so many levels. My eyes popped out of my head when you compared it to Now, Voyager--one of the most romantic films of the 40s. I can't say that I found the film very romantic. I love Kate Hepburn, but she gets on my nerves in this. You are right about the scenery shots, though.

Rianna said...

Well, I think I'm kind of peculiar. As I said, most people don't really like this film or even if they managed to, not as much as I did. I agree that Now, Voyager is one of the great romantic films of the 1940's. I was simply comparing the plot line. A spinster falls in love, abroad, for the first time but the relationship is doomed from the start. I'm sorry that Kate Hepburn got on your nerves in this, she couldn't annoy me in anything. :) Each to their own, I suppose. Thanks for your input on this!

Anonymous said...

I for one adored this movie so much I went out right away and purchased the DVD.
It was just so very sweet and romantic.
Watching this film was the first time I had seen Rosanno Brazzi and I remember gasping and thinking who is he ???
WOW – what a handsome man.
I thought the two of them were wonderful together on screen and it is one of my all time favorites !!!!

Rianna said...

Hey there, thanks for stopping by! Your comment made my day. I'm glad someone else found it as sweet and romantic as I did. This was my first time watching a Brazzi movie too. I thought he and Kate Hepburn were wonderful despite the age difference. Glad to know I'm not the only one who liked this! ;)

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