500 Days of Summer
Directed by Marc Webb
Released July 17, 2009
The first theatrical feature film from director Marc Webb is determined not to be a love story. The necessity to avoid a cliché chain of events and stray from the norm could have really damaged the impact of the film and resulted in a sub-par experience. Fortunately, the film has a style all its own which more than allows for creative storytelling and an atypical tale of a love that just wasn’t meant to be.
Many will compare “500 Days of Summer” to Woody Allen’s first major critical hit, the classic “Annie Hall.” It involves a similar plot, to be sure, highlighting ups and downs over an extended period of time in the relationship of two people simply infatuated with each other. This couple, Tom and Summer, is young but their story isn’t any less timeless. Tom and Summer go many places together, and their conversations are about architecture and art and literature, all subjects that don’t lend themselves to a particular time period or setting. It’s a wonderful way of keeping the characters afloat and purposely neglecting to ground them in any kind of temporal reality, and that’s exactly how the movie operates.
Five hundred days of summer is on the menu, but it’s not served in any logical order. Snippets are taken from good and bad times, and the way in which it’s presented is absolutely compelling and gives a satisfyingly complete picture of their courtship, honeymoon period, and breakup stage perfectly. It’s hard to get too attached to the couple because, after each positive memory, an unfortunate downturn in their relationship comes up on screen, with Tom’s goofy smile turning into an angry frown. The relationships’ over before it started, in a sense, but the movie’s still enormously worthwhile while it lasts.
The two leads are perhaps the most significant successful aspect of the film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has grown up a great deal since his time on NBC’s “3rd Rock from the Sun,” and his maturity is wonderfully refreshing. As greeting-card writer Tom, he’s unflappably positive and sports a smile that’s incredibly contagious. Zooey Deschanel has possessed an undeniable charm since she appeared briefly in the road movie “Almost Famous” back in 2000. As secretary Summer, she displays the same level of joy and exuberance with a completely different way of looking at things. The two leads are extremely likeable and they light up the screen both separately and together. Supporting actors Geoffrey Arend, Matthew Gray Gubler, Chloe Moretz, and Clark Gregg enhance their scenes as well.
Most importantly, the movie champions both Tom and Summer’s views on love without taking a definitive side. Tom believes true love is possible, and Summer thinks things will always find a part. The film finds a brilliant middle ground between their viewpoints, and it’s all a part of the clever way in which the expiration-date tale is told. Even though things aren’t fated to work out, it’s still nice to see an entertaining and often moving snippet of the intersection of their lives. It’s occasionally funny and altogether enjoyable.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
500 Days of Summer