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Review: 500 Days of Summer

Jul. 16, 2009by: Mathew Plale

PLOT: In this story of boy meets girl, romantic greeting card writer Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls for his boss new secretary, Summer (Zooey Deschanel). What follows are 500 days of love, anguish, and the aphrodisiac that is Ikea, as Tom finds himself head-over-heels and Summer finds herself looking to be just friends.

REVIEW:Meet Tom, a could-be architect who has settled himself as a copywriter in the world of greeting cards. Maybe youve seen his work (Today youre a man. Mazel tov on your Bar Mitzvah!). Now meet Summer, an office secretary on Toms floor. She averages 18.4 double takes from men each day.

And so the days of Summer begin. 500 DAYS OF SUMMER is a film about, the narrator informs us, Boy Meets Girl. But its not, he warns, a love story. Toms constant allure for love stems from his days of youth, sitting in his bedroom watching The Graduate (is that a happy or sad ending?) and listening to sad British pop music. Summers refusal to believe in the Fantasy? Chalk it up to divorced parents.

Summer is upfront in her position to be just {gulp} friends. Tom agrees. So then why is he mechanically breaking plates in his kitchen in front of his little sister? Its here that the film flashes backwards and forwards in narrative, moving quickly enough so the gimmicky structure becomes effective.

We jump from Day 1, when Summer is hired to answers phones two cubicle rows away from the smitten Tom, to 154, when he realizes hes in love. And then from 109, when Tom first sees Summers apartment, to 400-something, where Summer catches the bouquet at a wedding. And then theres Day 441 , where whiskey and Twinkies serve as Toms depression-easing diet. And 448, whenAnd of course 500, when

Director Marc Webb, making his feature debut after years as a music video director, working with a screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, is dead-set on making 500 DAYS the anti-rom-com. Its romantic and comedic, sure, but it relies more on the chemistry between the leads than audience recognition and compatibility. Its also very clever and secure with itself to serve as a dissection of the ups and downs and lefts and rights of the Boy-Girl Relationship.

Take Summers birthmark. At the height of their relationship, Tom pins it as cute and heart-shaped. Later, after a big breakup, its an ugly cockroach-shaped blotch. Or when Summer admits Ringo is her favorite Beatle, which becomes fodder for Tom. Hundreds of days later, he shows her a copy of Stop and Smell the Roses (Starrs 1981 album), and the joke is no longer amusing to her.

Or the much-loved sequence where Tom, just having left Summers apartment after their first night together (Day 282, for those keeping track), struts home, high-fiving strangers and breaking into a well-choreographed dance with dozens of park patrons. Any other film (i.e. one with a quarter of the brain and heart) would have Tom bragging to his friends and spilling the deets. Here, animated bluebirds gather on his fingertips.

Disney-esque illusion plays an important role in 500 DAYS OF SUMMER - ironic since the film is so invariably honest in its portrayal of love and heartache. In a split-screen sequence that will break your heart, we witness Toms expectations (no doubt developed from the movies he watched in his bedroom) juxtaposed with the reality of what happens when hes invited to a rooftop party thrown by Summer after months of not seeing each other.

Boy is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who has become something of a fixture of indie cinema. Girl is Zooey Deschanel, something of a fixture of my desktop wallpaper. Gordon-Levitt waited well over a decade into his career to make an impression on the Film Independent scene with 2004s MYSTERIOUS SKIN, and he continues it in 500 DAYS, creating a charming idealist out of what is, more or less, a sap. And Deschanel, who was born to be admired (and photographed), nudges our sympathy on, urging us to love him even if fate says she cant.

But we dont hate her for leading him on, or him for falling for it. And thats part of the point. Sometimes things happen even while were looking, and in turn, things dont fit how we want. And nobodys to blame. Thats how love, life, and all of it goes. The best we can do is smash dinner plates and, eventually, look closer.

RATING: 9/10
Source: JoBlo.com

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