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Summer of Sam Movie Poster
Plot, Details & Awards

Summer of Sam

Rated R for strong graphic violence and sexuality, pervasive strong language and drug use.

R In Theaters 07/2/1999 , 142min.
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Plot & Details

In the summer of 1977, a serial killer who called himself Son of Sam (real name David Berkowitz) held New York City in terror as he went on a killing spree, periodically writing letters to New York's media in which he took full responsibility for the murders and made clear that he intended to kill again. Spike Lee's Summer of Sam deals in part with this crime spree, but it mostly looks back at the fearful impact of his crimes on New York's collective consciousness. Vinny and Dionna (John Leguizamo and Mira Sorvino) are an unhappy young married couple living in the Bronx; Vinny often cheats on Dionna but is wracked with guilt about it, while Dionna fears she lacks the looks or allure to hold onto a man. Ritchie (Adrien Brody) is a neighborhood kid turned punk rocker (complete with a fake British accent); he has a band and a girlfriend (Jennifer Esposito) but also makes money as an exotic dancer at a gay club. And Luigi (Ben Gazzara), a longtime leader of organized crime in the Bronx, is approached by the police, with whom he generally has a less cordial relationship, to help them find the killer, as the citizens of some neighborhoods barricade their streets in fear that he will strike there next. Meanwhile, a tortured psychopath named David Berkowitz (Michael Badalucco) seethes with rage in his gloomy apartment and receives messages from a demonic dog who commands him to kill and kill again. Spike Lee's first film without a primarily African-American cast (though bearing the unmistakable New York stamp that's one of his hallmarks), Summer of Sam was shown as part of the Directors Fortnight series at the 1999 Cannes Film Festival.

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