Review: 500 Days of Summer
PLOT: Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon Leavitt) is your average twenty-something white dude with a good 9-5 job. Everything about his life is perfectly adequate, except for one thing: he has not yet met The One. So when a beautiful new co-worker named Summer (Zooey Deschanel) enters his life, Tom thinks hes met his soul mate. But while Summer is definitely into Tom, shes not so much into relationships and she doesnt believe in love.
This film was reviewed as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival
REVIEW: God bless this film for showing the other side of love. The not-so-rosy side of relationships. For showing that men dont always dictate the pace. Men dont always screw over women, men arent simply clamoring to get laid. Thats right, despite what Hollywood seems to think, some of us men suffer too damnit, we got feelings too. Thats not to say that 500 Days of Summer is some whiny, emo, girl-power marathon- its not, at all. Its just a realistic, witty, and most importantly extremely entertaining piece of filmmaking. Its the Rom-com rebuttal. Sure, its still a comedy, and yes, at times it can be very romantic, but it sure aint sweet, and this baby aint even remotely formulaic.
As the title suggests, we follow the 500 days that Tom Hansen has Summer in his life. We dont however follow this story in order. We jump from day 249 to day 1, to day 488, to day 44, etc. It can get a bit disorienting and tiresome at times, but it works better than your typical point A to point B narrative. This and several other elements of the film are very evocative of another of my favorites that rebel against the genre, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In both films we get a sensitive male lead and an elusive, cold female who serves as the object of the males every desire and the subject of their greatest fears. Its a bold tactic in that romantic comedies are typically for the female audience, with characters they can sympathize with. 500 Days of Summer is decidedly told from the males perspective (though it appeals to both sexes), so heres hoping a male audience can get over their preconceptions and give this film a go.
Gordon-Leavitt is great as always, playing an everyman who, God bless him, just wants to meet the right girl and settle down. While hes sure Summer is that girl, shes not so sure hes the right guy, or that theres even such thing. Throughout their tumultuous relationship, the screenwriters built in some moments of rare realism, like that short, cryptic email us guys dread, the inevitable friends talk, the possible rekindling of romance, etc. Its hard to describe without giving too much away, but Id bet good money that anyone who sees this film will find at least one or two instances where they say Wow, yeah, I can relate to that.
That isnt to say this film is one long break-up or downer. Not even close! Its a comedy after all, and there are many happy times to be had by the couple. Music video helmer Marc Webb directed this thing with great visual flair, providing everything from animation to a fantastic dance number that is easily one of the films great moments. Drawing on both classic 80s hits and current hipster tunes, this films soundtrack is one thatll probably be a big seller as well, and keeps the film upbeat.
Other than the somewhat disorienting narrative, there are a few other small hang-ups I had with this film. Despite smashing dozens of stereotypes, the pic does unfortunately succumb to several which standout all the more. These include the horny, crude, never-gets-laid best friend, and the for-some-reason-20-years-more-mature-than-she-should be younger sister. Also, since the film wants to appeal to mass audiences as much as possible, it shies away from too many truly emotional moments, and I wish there were a few more of those, but on the whole, this thing still packs way more emotional punch than 99% of the rom-coms out there today.
In fact, I dont want to classify 500 Days as a rom-com at all. I cant call it a tragicomedy either though, or a drama. The film really is unclassifiable, and that in my mind is the mark of something truly original.
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