Summertime is more of a mood piece than anything else. It captures the loneliness of a traveler in a foreign land, in this case a spinster who is hungry for love but too repressed to accept the love Rossano Brazzi offers. It has a bittersweet ending, appropriate for a thin story that sets the tone early on and never once makes us believe that Hepburn is going to find her true love in Venice.
The photography is gorgeous and must have had everyone heading for the nearest travel bureau for a tour of Italy when the film was released. The performances are all excellent–but the film belongs to Hepburn. She creates one of her most moving and truthful portraits–sensitively showing us what this woman feels as she watches others pairing off for affairs, alone and unable to really connect. The sexual mores of the 1950s permeate the film–the sexual revolution was just over the horizon but not yet evident.
One of Hepburn’s most subtle, yet affecting performances. With David Lean’s sensitive direction, the gorgeous photography and the evocative background music, “Summertime” will put you under the spell of its fragile romance. Easy to see why Brazzi was the ultimate continental charmer.