Sunday, 7 October 2012

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Marc Webb's film is sold time and time again as a romantic comedy. It's not. It is a film about a romance, and it is funny, but putting (500) Days of Summer into the RomCom category would be like asking for strawberry ice cream and getting chocolate: it's still full of sugar, it still tastes good and it'll still mess with your head, but it's not exactly what you wanted.

(500) Days flits back and forth through the year and a bit of the entire relationship between greetings card writer Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the new-to-the-office Summer (Zooey Deschanel). Their different ideas about love and how the world works clash, and create an interesting and realistic picture of how people aren't always perfect together, unlike in just about every other film like this.

JGL sells the insecure and emotionally immature Tom perfectly. Gordon-Levitt has a certain quality that I can't quite put my finger on, but he has such a range that he can play your everyday, moderately successful  late twentysomething as convincingly as a time travelling hitman. He's like that kid that was in your class at school; you knew them pretty well and they fit in perfectly fine, but everyone knew they were destined for something better than the people around them. I'm more than prepared to go on the record and say that JGL will go on to be something truly massive.

Deschanel doesn't disappoint either. I've gone on about her way too much regarding how she plays the same character in anything she's involved. She is pretty much the postergirl for the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype. But, it works here. (500) Days of Summer isTom's take on the world and we only see it how he does. With a bit of help from his sister and friends, Tom eventually starts to hook up with reality and Summer shifts away from Jess in New Girl to Clementine in Eternal Sunshine and we get a real person and not someone where  "many guys think I'm a concept, or I complete them, or I'm gonna make them alive. But I'm just a fucked-up girl who's lookin' for my own peace of mind".

It should be noted too, that this was Marc Webb's first feature film after making a name in music videos. He takes a deft hand and uses it to position a great number of stylish and sleekly directed high concept scenes and weaves them seamlessly into the otherwise grounded film. In particular, a scene with a splitscreen take on expectations vs reality plays out astoundingly well. Coherent, immaculately paced and emotionally engaging, the splitscreen scene is something any director would be proud of and for a newcomer to pull it off shows some true talent.

(500) Days isn't a standard Rom Com (it certainly isn't like Nick and Norah from the other day), especially not in how the end game plays out, but anyone who's a fan of the genre has to check it out as soon as possible, and it should definitely be on everyone's watchlist eventually.

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