August 1, 2009
Review - " (500) Days of Summer " - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
writing is snappy and the directing is swift. Most of the movie goes right – it’s very confident and self-assured with itself for
Notice that I called it a “romance” film. I think it’s because it is inaccurate to classify this as a romantic comedy or a
dramatic romance. But the film, with its’ spontaneous detours through dream sequences, a French New Wave impromptu,
black & white snapshots, attention-grabbing diagram drawings, a split screen with a fake-and-real scheme, and a buoyantly
choreographed musical number – is a whimsical romance. The film is breezily photographed and the cutting has a pop
rhythm. It moves fast and exuberantly, but also smartly. To its credit, "500 Days" manages to have some fun with "Pulp
Fiction", French cinema, and "The Seventh Seal" without seeming pretentious or absurd.
Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) replays his 500 up-and-down days with the girl he loves. Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is the girl
he was meant to spend his life with, he believes. Tom is a greeting-card writer who gave up on his dreams of being an
architect, and Summer is the new office assistant whom he’s smitten with the moment he lays eyes on her, but word is out
that she’s a bitch. He steers his eyes away for three days until he can’t help but notice her. On day four, they share the
elevator and bond over The Smith’s song “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.” An employee outing taps two karaoke
performances by first Summer, then Tom. Then Tom’s drunk friend tells him, “Why don’t you just tell her you like her?”
An office romance begins,
but the film avoids sitcom
auto-piloting. It has the kind
of unpredictable giddiness.
The hook is that the two lead
characters are unorthodox
opposites. Reversing stereo-
types, Tom is a sensitive and
romantic one with grandiose
ideas about how love
completes us. Summer is
uninterested in having a
boyfriend and enjoys her
independence. While they’re
dating, Summer insists they
are just friends. By the time
they realize they are a couple,
they are having quarrels like
Sid & Nancy.
Well not quite, but that’s how
Summer describes the two of
them. The film slides back and
forth in time, using flash title
cards informing us which day they’re in. They’re all Tom’s scattered memories, shuffling between day 32 and day 185 and
then back again to an earlier time. It’s like a sunnier version of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” but by day 320 watch
as Tom’s face begins to droop. Love is schizoid, isn’t it?
It’s quite refreshing to watch as the male character expresses his relationship concerns and exposes his insecurities. The
typical female-centered, “He’s Just Not That Into You” approach to modern day rom-coms is missing, and thank goodness for
Taking this theme of gender role reversal even further is the presence of Tom’s little sister, Rachel (Chloe Grace Moretz)
offers precocious insights in cute segments. She becomes his sage in matters of the heart . She cannot be a day older than
12 yet she remains the voice of reason throughout his distress and Summer-induced heartache. Playing the 30 year old in a
12 year old body she offers the best advice for Tom - that maybe he's only pining over the good memories.
The archetypal images of Summer and Tom are a drastic contrast to their atypical relationship. It’s easy to get hypnotized by
Summer’s porcelain skin, the dramatic flips of her dark flowing hair and her hyper feminine wardrobe, but watch out – external
appearances are a cheap trick by the filmmakers.
Between the flashbacks and forwards of Tom’s days with Summer lies a story everyone can lose themselves in. We can
practically see Tom’s heart sewn onto his sleeve, but just in case there was any room for uncertainty, the film’s music fills in
the emotional gaps.
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(500) Days of Summer
Directed by: Marc Webb
Starring: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Clark Gregg,
Minka Kelly, Rachel Boston, Matthew Gray Gublert, and Chloe
"This is a story of boy meets girl. But you should know up front: This
is not a love story."
This is no love story but rather a “story about love.”. Tom Hansen
(No relation), a greeting-card writer and hopeless romantic, is caught
completely off-guard when his girlfriend, Summer, suddenly dumps
him. He reflects back on their 500 days together to try to figure out
where their love affair went sour, and in so doing, Tom rediscovers
his true passions in life.
"(500) Days of Summer" succeeds by treating its content seriously:
men fall in love; relationships are hard; sometimes the one you want
does not fall in love with you. It also succeeds because of the strong
cast, lead by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (TV's "Third Rock from the Sun")
and Zooey Deschanel (Quirky indie film queen).
It's laudable that we can watch a film where he is into her, but where
she will break his heart and neither of the leads is demonized or
caricatured. With few exceptions, Gordon-Levitt is a study in
understatement. So, when he daydreams to Hall & Oates' "You Make
my Dreams Come True", his bliss is palatable and amusing. Here, as
in "Elf", Deschanel shows her subtle comic timing.
Very few romance films are this nimble and supple – full of those
moments that occupy relationships between smart, inquiring and
contemplative twenty-something’s. This is what happens when the
It only feels like the last 100
days are redundant, but
that's love – you stick around
past all reasons of insanity.
Not much goes wrong with
“Days of Summer” Most of
the time, the film is a jaunty
affair that is more sweet and
divine than real life.
Love story. Fairy tale. Call it
what you want. “(500) Days
of Summer” is a lot more
honest and accurate than
anything coming out of
Hollywood these days.
Endearing, fresh and funny,
(500) Days of Summer also
offers insights about fate,
heartbreak and the
perseverance of hope.