(500) Days of Summer
a review by Joshua P. Ferguson
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel
Directed by: Marc Webb
Written by: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Webber
This movie literally made my date cry for, oh, 45 minutes. I kid you not. And I say this with the best of possible intentions. This is, in no way, a knock on the film. It was heartfelt, infinitely relatable and infinitely enjoyable. It reminded you of things that have happened to you in life, and by you, I mean the proverbial you. I'm sure there's a large number of automatons out there who'll wonder what the hell I'm talking about—people like that cookie cutter jackass that Joseph Gordon-Levitt punches in the face—but those of you who do relate to this movie have all had encounters with idiots like him and most, like me, probably wish they'd done the same thing JGL does. Ya, I mean go for it, knowing full well that the end result will probably not work out in your favor. Herein lies the film's true brilliance, keeping it real, yet firmly in Hollywood-land, allowing us to connect with it and indulge how we all wish our fantasies played out.
While not feeling the need to reiterate a terribly detailed plot synopsis, for the sake of clarity I will say that the basic premise of the movie is that Gordon-Levitt's character, Tom, falls for Zooey Deschanel's character, Summer, and the two share a 400 day run together that most likely had any single guys in the theater squirming with jealousy. But as things do, the relationship comes to an end, sending the endlessly likable Tom into a solid three months—the last 100 of the 500 days—of depression and despair. But, as is also always true, the grey gloom dissipates leaving Tom with a few fond remembrances and a few life lessons learned.
Just reading that paragraph I'm sure many can relate. All too well. This movie painted a picture of young love that's painfully common these days (for all I know, its been common for ages). Two fashionable twenty somethings, both in a state of flux as they navigate what to do with their lives, meet, enjoy each others company, date and... reach a point where one is more invested in the relationship than the other, leaving things in ruin for one sad party, in this case Tom. Or in my date's case, her, which explained the sprinkler session that lasted from the 70 minute mark of the film all the way until we made it to the bar for a much needed—and very stiff—martini.
But the movie also indulged our sense of fantasy. I, for one, would feel blessed to have an experience like Tom's, right down to the bitter end. For starters, I left the theater wanting to head straight to the nearest men's boutique so I could make my wardrobe more like Tom's. Then I wanted to head to the nearest women's boutique so we could do the same for my date (to spare myself any grief from this statement, she has a fantastic sense of style. This would simply be so we matched). They both had amazing taste in music (the Temper Trap's "Sweet Disposition" features prominently throughout the movie, much to my enjoyment, as I fully intend for this song to be on my top ten list at year's end). Past their attributes, there are the situations they find themselves in. The couple's first encounter is reciting Smiths lyrics together in an elevator. They're first romantic encounter is a spontaneous make out session in the copy room. They sing Karaoke together, beautifully. They challenge each other to see who can scream "penis" louder in a crowded park. Tom draws his ideal architectural renovation of downtown L.A. on Summer's arm and its amazing. Lets face it, these things just don't happen. If they do, I want to know where. L.A.? If its actually happening in a greeting card office, then thank god I'm studying copywriting.
What really pushes the film from good to great is how it makes it clear that it knows it's created an idyllic situation. And one that's all too real. From Tom's choreographed dance session with a crowd of incredibly agile Los Angeleans—and an animated bird—to the split screen fantasy vs reality party scene where Tom learns that things with Summer are officially over, the movie perfectly shows you both sides of its brain. It'll leave you asking yourself, "How many times have I had that happen to me?" and "How many times have I wished that had happened to me?" simultaneously. Both were questions that my date and I asked each other after the movie. Until she cut me off with a sniffle, saying, "This is too much. Give me a few days to get over it and then we can discuss this movie more."