(500) Days of Summer
Film review by: Witney Seibold
So yeah, there was this one girl. This one girl that I was totally enamored of. This one girl who was beautiful, funny, charming, and who had nearly identical interests to me. I was totally into her. Of course, she didn’t feel the same way about me. My heart was broken.
Marc Webb’s “(500) Days of Summer” is all about that girl. Our first intense, unrequited love. And we all have one version of that girl or guy in our lives, so it’ll be easy for just about anyone to relate to this film. Webb tells the story of his two young maybe-lovers (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel) out-of-chronological-order, likely to accentuate the way our memories work when thinking back upon a romantic wound. We think back on the pleasant times of growing affection all in a halcyon, luminous haze, grinning at how perfect all things were. After everything has ended, we begin to picture the tiny, independent moments that indicate that things were, perhaps, not a perfect as we assumed them to be the first time through.
Tom (Gordon-Levitt) is a fan of Joy Division, and, a narrator informs us, has misinterpreted the ending of “The Graduate,” feeling it is the romantically perfect ending. He is itching to find The One in his life; The One who will be his eternal true love. He is a Romantic. Summer (Deschanel) is a pretty, wide-eyed pragmatist who does not believe in love. She treats everyone so nicely, though, that many young men have fallen in love with her over the years, and she’s left a wake of unrequited crushes. Tom and Summer work in the same office, meet cute, go on dates, and Tom falls helplessly in love. Summer does not share his feelings, but likes his company, and keeps him around, flirting, opening up to him, and even sleeping with him.
We learn at the opening of the film that these two will not end up together, so the chronological jumping about is just Tom’s way of making sense of the whirlwind of emotions he’s been experiencing. A blind date he goes on with a pretty redhead (Rachel Boston) is able to sum things up pretty well though: “She didn’t betray you. She didn’t cheat on you, and she said she didn’t want a boyfriend right at the outset. What’s the problem?”
The presence of Deschanel, the hip soundtrack, and the cutesy, stylish storytelling had me fearful that this film would be insufferably cutesy, and unbearably twee; like it was trying harder to be “cool” than is was trying to tell a real story about real people. While it does tip dangerously close to this area several times, it manages to hold its own, and keep one interested without being annoyed by its own self-satisfies self-referential-ness.
“(500) Days of Summer” is actually charming and funny and witty and insightful. Some critics have gone so far as to compare it to “Annie Hall,” and that’s actually quite apt. Surrounding our frustrated lovers is a gallery of funny best friends (Geoffrey Arend, Matthew Gary Gubler) and a funny 12-year-old sister (Chloe Moretz) who, despite continuing the trend of putting precious adult language into the mouth of a child, manages to play the part incredibly well, and say some of the more helpful things in the movie.
“(500) Days of Summer” is nearly perfect… right up until the final 10 seconds of film. I won’t give away the ending, but I will say you can lave the theater just as Sam is going in for a job interview. You’ll miss the final line of dialogue, and be better for it. The final line of dialogue nearly undoes the entire film, as it plunges, two-feet, into the aforementioned twee-ness.
Luckily, the film is so strong, it’s still worth seeing.