|Time: 99 mins.|
Rating: Not Rated
Academy Award nominations for Best Actress and Best Director.
I have to say that the only reason I watched this movie was to kill time. There's was nothing better on TV, so I figured I'd give this Hepburn movie a try. Plus, it's directed by the brilliant David Lean, which I have to say intrigued me more than a little. Even though this film was shot before his classic epics LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DR. ZHIVAGO, it's clear who was behind the camera. SUMMERTIME, at its' core is nothing but romantic melodrama, but Lean elevates the material into a classic love story. The fact that he has one of the best actresses ever to grace the big screen certainly doesn't hurt. This film allows Hepburn to show a lonely and melancholy side audiences rarely got to see from her up to this point. She usually played highly intelligent and ambitious women, who were also lucky enough to find true love. This film gives her a chance to reveal the life of a woman who missed that particular boat. What better place to make one final stab at romantic happiness than in Venice, Italy.
Lean may be telling a love story between a man and a woman, but it's clear that his true love is Venice. I have never seen that city look more romantic or inviting. He not only captures the charm and beauty of it's waterways and people, but the pace and cultural values as well. He's a director who truly knows how to bring a place to life. Italy screams romance, so it's no surprise our leading lady becomes horribly sad soon after her arrival. Jane Hudson is an independent woman who's decided to take a well-deserved and much anticipated trip to Italy. Her initial joy at the newness and beauty of her surroundings is replaced by a feeling of loneliness she just can't shake. Everyone, it seems, is in love or at least paired off. She tries to make friends, but is always the third wheel, a position that makes her situation all the more intolerable. She came to Italy to try to dispel the feeling that her life was missing something. What her trip has done, is shown her exactly what that something is. Love and romance. Which she believes she is no closer to attaining here than at home.
Lest one forget, she is in Italy and she soon catches the eye of a local businessman. Of course, being a lady, she keeps her cool and pretends to ignore him. She may be looking for love, but she's not the type to indulge in a cheap fling. Fate seems to have other plans, since she runs into the same man at his trinket shop. Renato Di Rossi (Brazzi) is surprised and pleased to see her again. It is clear that he's more interested in her than the sale. Jane is extremely flustered, though strangely attracted to him as well. Though she tries to resist, when he appears at her hotel to ask her out, she can't say no. They have a wonderful time and form a quick connection neither can deny. Jane is soon head over heals in love, enjoying a sensation that she thought she would never experience in her life. Better late than never.
Her beautiful bubble is prematurely burst when she discovers a horrible secret about her new love. She confronts him only to be scolded for being uptight and judgemental about affairs that are not her business. He convinces her to enjoy the moment, to be true to her heart and leave her petty worries about right and wrong behind. They are in love and that's all that matters. A few well-placed kisses soon convince her Renato has a point. One has to take life as it comes and this trip, like everything else, won't last forever. They become inseperable, enjoying each other's company to the fullest. It is clear, however, that the magic can't last as Jane's departure date looms near. The film keeps you guessing up to the last moment will she stay and live the life of her dreams or return to America with only memories of her true love? I'll leave you wondering too.
From my description, SUMMERTIME may seem like a run-of-the-mill, slightly boring romance, but with every minute that passed I became more involved with the story than I thought I could be. Maybe because I could really relate to what Hepburn was going through in the first half of the film. It doesn't take much imagination to step into her shoes. It could happen to the best of us. I've travelled alone and though there's a certain freedom to not being accountable to anyone else's desires, it can also be terribly lonely to have all these wonderful experiences and no one to share them with. She so desperately wants to be loved, but is afraid to be made a fool, unable to trust her own feelings. It's a marvelous transformation when she finally lets go and gives herself the right to enjoy her own life, right or wrong be damned.
Rossano Brazzi is devastatingly charming as her Italian love. If I were in her shoes, I wouldn't have resisted him half as long as she did. He wears his emotions on his sleeve and you can't help but fall in love with him. There are other characters in this film, but they don't really matter all that much. This movie is all about finding true love and making an honest connection with a member of the opposite sex. It's Hepburn and Brazzi's show and they make you yearn for Italy and the love you might be so lucky as to find there. Is it the best love story ever? No, but it's one that's hard to deny. SUMMERTIME would not be half as enjoyable if it were missing either of these actors or it's fantastic location. I guess we're lucky we'll never have to find out. If you're looking for a more adult and refreshing look at finding romance, then check out this film. It won't change your life, but it'll give you some lovely memories of time beautifully spent.