500 Days of Summer Review

Like a “Cassavetian” classic, 500 Days of Summer succeeds in not following any stereotypical romance-comedy conclusions, formats, or progressions. Just when you think things are going good, they don’t. The director is relatively new, and will have made a statement with this feature film: “I can direct a big-budget film.” The stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Tom Hansen) and Zooey Deschanel (Summer Finn) carried the movie quite well with their balance of fun, chemistry, and emotion, and the rest of the cast complimented their compatibility as well. The story of the movie is set in Modern-day Los Angeles, and the landscapes and beautiful architecture chosen only make the movie more beautiful and vivid.

The story begins with Tom Hansen, an employee at a card company, setting his sights on his boss’s new assistant Summer Finn. He first is amazed by her by sparking her attention in the elevator to the Smith’s CD he’s listening to, which happens to be one of her favorites. Once they start dating she makes it perfectly clear to him that she does not want a serious relationship, and he agrees to “casual.” Soon, though, as the relationship and movie progress, their relationship gets more and more serious, and she slowly lets her guard down. However, I would not be spoiling the ending by explaining that, this is not a regular love story or that Summer indeed begins to pull away from their relationship. As the film continues skipping back and forth through the 500 days, we see interesting differences between things that once brought them together, now bringing them apart. This depressing atmosphere is evident until the last quarter of the movie when things begin to get really interesting, but I don’t want to spoil the entire picture.

The cinematography was spot on and the unregulated order in which the 500 days were presented proved to be a useful tool. The at times seemingly random jumping of the days is quickly shown to be rational and relevant to the storyline. The movie is well-done in the sense that while you’re watching it, you find yourself buying the love they share, and almost as if right on cue, the director crushes your emotional attachment to the bond Tom and Summer share, and forces you to reevaluate and adjust, (several times actually throughout the movie).

The acting done by Joseph Gordon-Levitt seemed like it had almost reached its limits in 500 Days of Summer, which is not necessarily a good thing. While he is truly suited for drama and romance movies, I couldn’t see him expanding into other genres with great success. He adds very dramatic facial expression to his characters, allowing us to read Tom’s looks very clearly, and understand what is going through his head, (à la Adrien Brody). This said, he is overall a good actor, has done good work in the past, and despite the dismal outcome of his character’s relationship in this film, he’s starring alongside Natalie Portman and Carla Gugino in his next two. He’s doing pretty well for himself!

The unorthodox method of reaching the films climax brings this movie to the forefront of whats new in today’s cinema. This is the kind of film that is so interesting people go see it on the big screen based on the trailer’s intriguing concept alone. Although it does not have many areas in which one could say that it legitimately fell way short, I couldn’t get the unsatisfying taste of mediocrity out of my mouth after it was over. Maybe it was too much of a “chick-flick” to be taken seriously, although I thought that the implicit and explicit themes of the movie where maybe not necessarily deep, but practical to a slowly less true love, and more liberal, oriented society. To give this movie a four-out-of-five star rating feels like catching a student cheating in class, but letting him talk his way out of punishment and giving him a B instead of the A that the other students worked for. It just feels wrong.

Sure it is a well-done film. I’d even call it “wholesome” or “complete.” Sure it makes you think about the important ideas it presents to the audience. But it just seems like something is missing. Maybe its the story’s depth. Maybe I’m being too harsh. And maybe its something else…but “it’s just not working out between us, maybe we should see other…um…movies.”