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Ritchie & Ruby:
An Unconventional Love Story


To me, the relationship between Ritchie Trengalli (Adrien Brody) and his girlfriend Ruby (Jennifer Esposito) was the most interesting aspect of Spike Lee's Summer of Sam. Yes, even more than the actual murder and manhunt storyline. Then again, as a fan of Adrien's, I suppose I'm biased.

Bias aside, I found the movie as a whole a bit of a misfire -- disappointing, coming from someone as lauded as Spike Lee. Summer of Sam needed more story and far less of main character Vinnie banging everything that moved and a record-setting amount of F-bombs (a record later broken by Wolf of Wall Street). To me, it's just lazy writing/directing/acting (whomever is responsible) to put in this amount of cursing. Some, of course, is needed in a gritty film like this, but it went far beyond genuine conversation and reached the point of laughable.

What wasn't laughable, however, was the connection between Ritchie and Ruby. They seemed to be the only characters one could even root for (other than maybe Dionna). Warned not to be together, they scoffed and went about their merry way. I wish their story had been a movie all by itself, to be honest.


A bit about Ritchie

Ritchie grew up with the aforementioned Vinnie, but has drifted away somewhat. Vinnie is more a part of the disco scene, Ritchie is drawn to punk (to the point of donning a bad cockney accent from time to time).

What Vinnie doesn't know at first is that Ritchie also dances in an all-male review and... "entertains" men in the ladies rest room upstairs to make extra cash. We see that his main reason for this is to purchase a Fender guitar he's fallen in love with. He also needs to fund his pot habit.

Because of this line of work, Ritchie stops Ruby during her attempt to... service him during the early stages of their relationship. He tells her she doesn't have to do it, in a way that lets the audience know he cares about her. It demonstrates how demeaning the act must feel to him, and he doesn't want Ruby feeling like that.


And a bit about Ruby

Sadly, our introduction to Ruby is, "here comes Ruby the skank." Just lovely, no? Especially considering the same group who calls her that has yet to call Vinnie out for being a serial-cheating scumbag. But, I digress.

We get the idea that Ritchie treats Ruby with more respect than any man she's been with. Most just take her to motels and that's about it. Now, yes, Ruby & Ritchie do eventually start starring in adult films together, but...

What Ruby and Ritchie have is very sweet in its way. Unconventional? Perhaps. It was the summer of 1977 in New York City... this kind of love happened. But it's love. And it's beautiful to watch.