“(500) Days Of Summer” Is An Instant Romantic Classic
Are any of you familiar with “Garden State” Syndrome? Perhaps you have heard of someone who had “Say Anything-itis”? If so, you should probably be sure to get vaccinated for “(500) Days Of Summer” Flu because it’s going to be a doozy.
“(500) Days Of Summer” is going to be about a lot of your 25 to 35 year old friends…or at least, that is what many of them will tell you once they see the movie. Of course, this is impossible since that would mean hundreds of people are all living the same life.
Don’t take this the wrong way, I adored this movie. It is one of the more honest looks at falling in love you could watch, which unfortunately goes two ways. The first is that it makes the movie good and the second…makes for another “Garden State Syndrome”.
Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Tom, a 30 year old-ish greeting card writer. On day one of the 500 days, Summer (Zooey Deschanel) starts work as an assistant in his office. After a few days, Tom learns that Summer loves The Smiths and falls in love with her. Tom and Summer begin dating and they appear to be doing all the things that couples do as they fall in love.
As the brilliant narration by Richard McGonagle tells us, this is a story about boy meets girl, boy gets girl, then boy loses girl. That is really all there is to it. What truly makes this movie great is the way that we are shown Tom and Summer’s relationship. There are several interludes, including a dance sequence set to Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” and, most notably, an homage to French films that is both hilarious and brilliantly crafted.
The kicker is that we are shown Tom and Summer’s relationship out of sequence. Not only that, but we are told that Summer breaks up with Tom in the first five minutes of the movie. Then we shift back and forth through time, with each different shift set up in a brilliant way that I will not ruin. We see Summer explain to Tom her ideas about love, then we see Summer tell Tom her deepest thoughts and feelings, which almost go against all of her opinions of love and relationships and people. These events are shown in such heartbreakingly genius and perfect order that by the time the inevitable happens at the end of the film, it doesn’t matter the outcome. You become so emotionally invested in Tom and Summer that your heart should melt no matter what becomes of their relationship.
Of course, your investment in Tom and Summer are due in part to their backstories being told so well. The rest is all on the shoulders of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Each of them have probably reached the high point of their acting careers with this movie. They are both decently well-known actors already, but this is the type of movie that could make them big time movie stars.
Up until now, Gordon-Levitt has played darker roles, with the highlight being “Brick”. Tom is a complete 18o for him. Other than “Third Rock From The Sun”, he just hasn’t had the chance to smile and be cheery as much as he has with Tom. He is a hopeless romantic and even when he hits rock bottom, with the chance for over the top melodrama, he never reaches that point. While this probably isn’t going to win him an Academy Award (which I do believe is in his future), this cements Gordon-Levitt as perhaps the finest young actor working today.
Readers of this blog have probably seen this coming a mile away: I completely adore Zooey Deschanel’s performance as Summer. There is no doubt that the camera loves her as well, as there isn’t a frame of film in “(500) Days Of Summer” with her on it that isn’t made more vibrant due to her presence. This is the rare female role that allows an actress to really show off everything she has going for her, looks, talents, everything. Even when she says things that should refute Tom’s advances, he continues to pursue her and Deschanel makes it completely believable. It’s one of those star making turns and it potentially could lead to her first Oscar nomination.
The only thing really left to say about this movie is that the director, Marc Webb, has really set the bar high for his career. He has directed a gorgeously photographed, creatively edited, beautifully written, and superbly acted film. It’s one of the best relationship movies I have ever seen and should be held in the same regard as rom-com king “When Harry Met Sally”. Even the classic indie rock soundtrack is pitch perfect. Now the the Academy has opened the door up to ten Best Picture nominees, do not be surprised when “(500) Days Of Summer” is one of those chosen. It’s an instant romantic classic.
Cinematically Correct note: Hopefully, this movie will not be ruined by the guys who think they are Tom or the girls that think they are Summer. Tell me that every time some chick said, “Oh, I’m just like Natalie Portman in ‘Garden State’!” you weren’t sick to your stomach and I’ll eat your hat and paint your house.