Warning this review contains Spoilers – read on at your peril.
Last night I had the privilege of attending a preview of “(500) Days of Summer” (which is directed by Mark Webber) at Odeon, Belfast courtesy of seefilmfirst.com
I did not know what to expect, and as a result I was totally surprised at just how much I enjoyed watching this film. I can now see why, it was so critically acclaimed; after being shown at the 2009 Sundance festival.
Romantic Comedy is not a genre I generally enjoy but this was a different experience for me. Traditionally romantic comedies have centered on the woman being the victim, but it was the opposite in the case of this film.
Its the male character that has the broken heart.
If you wanted to describe the film in 3 sentences – according to the official site (www.500daysofsummer.co.uk) it would be:-
Boy Meets girl. Boy Falls in Love. Girl Doesn’t then does but not with him.
The film explores a failed romance between the two lead characters Tom and Summer played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. The chemistry between two actors in any film has to feel “real” for the film to work. Thankfully in this case you can see and believe, that the comfort and the trust between the two people in the film is genuine.
The “Summer” of the title is played by Zooey Deschanel, who is extremely pessimistic about love and relationships claiming that loves does not exist. This view is countered by Tom played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who believes whole heartedly in the whole concept of Love.. The two meet as workmates in a small greeting-card company and start dating, though Deschanel does not consider them to be boyfriend / girlfriend and wants it to be a casual thing. While Tom agrees to it just being casual, he harbours a torch for something more.
Eventually their relationship falls apart and Summer leaves the Company. Tom goes off the rails and falls into a spiral of depression. This results in him leaving the company and during his recovery decides to pursue his original dream of being an architect.
He slowly builds up a portfolio and makes a list of firms to present his work at. One by one he is rejected. Once the firms dwindle to a handful, Tom begins to lose hope. Tom goes to the bench at his favourite part of the city to think. He bumps into Summer and tells her that he now realizes that all his ideas about love were wrong.
Summer points out that she was the one that was wrong – The girl who didn’t want to be anyone’s girlfriend was now someone’s wife. She tells him that with her husband, she knew what she had with her husband was what she was never sure of with Tom: that she was in love with him and wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. She tells Tom he was right, but just not about her.
Tom was on his way to a job interview. As he sits there, waiting to be interviewed, a girl across the waiting room calls out to him and asks if they’ve met. She tells him that she’s seen him sitting on a bench in Tom’s favorite spot, which is coincidentally her favorite spot as well. Tom says he’s never seen her before, so she replies that he clearly wasn’t looking. Tom jokes that since she’s the competition he hopes she doesn’t get the job. She returns the wish. The interviewer calls Tom in, but as he’s walking he turns back and asks the girl to get some coffee afterwards. Tom smiles and introduces himself. She smiles and introduces herself. Her name is Autumn.
One point to remember is that the film does not follow chronological order and jumps freely around a 500-day time-line. In fact the film opens during day 488 of the 500 days featured in the film. This allows the film to examine the ups and downs of their relationship from Gordon-Levitt’s perspective, contrasting good days and bad while trying to figure out where things went wrong, and how they might be made right again.
I do have one gripe with the film. It falls into too many obvious comedy romantic clichés to be taken seriously and loses some of its impact in the process. Some of the gags are down right cheap, just watch the trailer above to see what I mean!
The sound track to the film was extremely pleasing and added to the viewing experience. It includes a couple of Regina Spektor tracks and also features The Smiths, Wolfmother and Doves. These tracks were placed because they work with the scenes and not to sell a sound track cd.
On Balance this film is a 7 out of ten. While it is not a classic film it has reinvigorated the genre and for doing so deserves our praise.