(500) Days of summer- A review

Posted on October 2, 2009 by

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You know the rom com plot. Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Boy gets girls affections, and everybody lives happily ever after. It’s tried and true- if a bit clichéd. Everybody knows real life doesn’t work like that, and yet hollywood continues to shove this vision down our throats, apparently scared of changing the formula, either because they fear that depressing the audience would cost them revenue, or because they think people go to the movies to get away from real life.

Until now.

500 days of summer is something refreshingly different, and makes no bones about it. From the minds of Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, and directed by Marc Webb, 500 presents us with the story of Greetings card writer Tom Hanson (Played ably by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who’s come a long way since appearing in 3rd Rock from the sun) and how he falls in love with Summer Finn (Played By Zooey Deschanel). What it does differently, is straight up tell the audience in the first minute that this love story does not have a happy ending; that Tom does not get the girl.

Tom opens the film by announcing it will not be your typical love story. ‘Are you like me, and when you realize a movie is on autopilot you get impatient with it? How long can the characters pretend they don’t know how the story will end?’ Here is a rare movie that begins by telling us how it will end and is about how the hero has no idea why.

The opening credits give us a montage of ‘home video’ clips of the two characters as children, while the voice-over tells us all about them. Tom has spent his entire life believing that out there is that one person, a soulmate who he is destined to be with, while Summer decided that love didn’t exist. The film itself is presented as a nonlinear narrative- Tom is thinking back on the 500 days he spent with Summer, and in a brilliant touch of realism, doesn’t remember it in order.

The story employs a large amount of mood whiplash, as it will go from the early, happy days of the relationship, to the later, argument prone days. Fortunately, this is done so masterfully, and so fluidly that it isn’t in the slightest bit jarring, and feels like a natural progression.

As a character, Tom is very sympathetic; a hopeless romantic who’s stuck in a job he hates, dreaming of becoming an architect, and falling in love with a girl endear him to the viewer considerably. He is strong enough to expect love, and weak enough to be hurt. It should be pointed out that as Summer takes an interest in him, she makes it clear that she’s not looking for a proper relationship, but even so one still can’t help but feel that she is the villain of the piece.

The plot is driven by Tom. Can he accept that he simply isn’t going to have Summer? That she liked him for a while, but not forever? This is a vibrant comedy, full of interesting quirks; there’s a section of art house black and white, a musical number and even a touch of Federico Fellini.

500 Days of Summer is an enjoyable, lively romp, and I highly recommend seeing it.

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Posted in: Movies, Review