Watch Suddenly, Last Summer
- 1 hr 54 min
Suddenly, Last Summer is a 1959 drama film that deals with the topics of trauma, sexuality, and mental illness. It stars Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, and Montgomery Clift and was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The film is based on the play of the same name by Tennessee Williams and tells the story of Catherine Holly, a young woman who witnessed the violent death of her cousin Sebastian in Europe the previous summer. She is institutionalized as a result of the traumatic experience, and her wealthy aunt Violet Venable, who believes Catherine is lying about the true circumstances of Sebastian's death, wants to have her lobotomized.
The film begins with Catherine's uncle, Dr. Cukrowicz, being brought in by Violet to evaluate Catherine's mental state and determine whether or not she should undergo the procedure. As he delves deeper into Catherine's story, he begins to uncover the truth about Sebastian's life and death, which leads to a shocking revelation about the true motives behind Violet's desire to have Catherine lobotomized.
Elizabeth Taylor gives a powerful performance as Catherine Holly, bringing a raw vulnerability to the role as she grapples with the trauma of witnessing her cousin's violent death. Her scenes with Montgomery Clift, who plays Dr. Cukrowicz, are particularly compelling, as the two actors have a palpable chemistry despite the emotional distance between their characters.
Katharine Hepburn also delivers a standout performance as Violet Venable, portraying the character as a woman consumed by her desire for control and unable to confront her own demons. Watching her and Taylor spar in their scenes together is a true masterclass in acting.
The film deals with themes of repressed desire and mental illness in a way that was groundbreaking for its time, particularly in its portrayal of the controversial practice of lobotomy. The story also touches on themes of homophobia and the consequences of societal pressure to conform to traditional gender roles.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz's direction is masterful, using stark black and white cinematography to heighten the film's sense of foreboding and drawing raw performances from his talented cast. The film's climactic scene, set in a lush tropical garden, is particularly striking, with the natural imagery contrasting sharply with the dark revelations that come to light.
In conclusion, Suddenly, Last Summer is a classic drama that has stood the test of time due to its powerful performances, skilled direction, and bold examination of taboo subjects. Fans of Tennessee Williams' work or classic drama in general will find much to admire here.
Suddenly, Last Summer is a 1959 thriller with a runtime of 1 hour and 54 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.5 and a MetaScore of 54.