(500) Days of Summer
Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn't.
Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn't. Well written, great cast, interesting directing and add to the mix an amazing soundtrack and you have a nearly perfect film.
In this indie rom-com Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom who is a hopeless romantic stuck in a job for a greeting-card company when he really wants to be an architect. Zooey Deschanel's Summer comes along and teaches Tom to be more spontaneous through trips to Ikea and karaoke nights. Tom falls head over heels in love with her but she is much more interested in keeping the relationship casual. We see the 500 days which they know each other with all the peaks and troughs that go along with a relationship. Tom is coached throughout these days with the help of his friends and sister, played by Chloe Moretz.
The wonderful Gordon-Levitt plays a delightful character who is very good at gaining sympathy from the audience, unfortunately this often means that Zooey Deschanel unintentionally becomes the villain in the story. Director Marc Webb uses interesting techniques such as random interviews with the characters, as well as a very clever scene involving an expectation vs. reality split screen. The writer wrote events that actually happened to him so everything is believable, with no running to airports in the rain to stop a flight or other tropes of rom-coms, making this a quirky and innovative addition to the rom-com genre.
Tom (Gordon-Levitt) is happy with his humdrum existence working as a greetings card designer until new office assistant Summer (Deschanel) steals his heart. From first sight, Tom falls madly in love with this carefree beauty, and spends the next five hundred days of his life obsessing about her: from coy flirting in the copy room to hand-holding in Ikea, through to the brutal aftermath of breaking up and the desperate hope of reconciliation.
(500) Days is a refreshing departure from the conventions of romantic comedies in a number of ways. For a start, the protagonist is male, enabling twice as many people to enjoy this instalment from an otherwise gender-biased genre. Secondly, we are instructed from the off that "this is not a love story", a warning which is still insufficient to prepare anyone for the uncharacteristically torturous affair that lies ahead. And to top it all off, the tale is unveiled achronologically, juxtaposing the happy and the miserable memories like strange bedfellows.
It's unsurprising to learn that the script was crafted with the leads in mind: Deschanel fits the oddly-cute kook like a glove, and Gordon-Levitt is so painfully believable you might feel as though you've rudely intruded into his living nightmare. But the movie's idiosyncratic charm shines brightest in its quirky cinematic asides, including home video clips of the actors in their younger years, a witty parody of art house cinema, and a splendidly spontaneous dance sequence that will get you grinning goofily.
In all ways this is a brave debut feature for director Marc Webb, yet he successfully accomplishes a smart contemporary exploration into art's most-traversed ground that breathes fresh air into a stale genre like a summer day breeze.
Screenings of this film:
|2009/2010 Spring Term – (35mm)|
|2009/2010 Spring Term – (35mm)|
|2013/2014 Spring Term – (digital)|