(500) Days of Summer reviewed

(500) Days of Summer is one of the most highly acclaimed romantic comedy-dramas released in 2009. A darling on the film festival circuit, and a sleeper hit at the box office, (500) Days of Summer approaches with surprising insight the bi-polar complexity of so many young adult relationships. It’s little surprise that of all the awards that the film has been nominated for, or won, Best Original Screenplay is the category that pops up time and time again.

Although I saw the edited, sanitised, airline version of (500) Days of Summer, I do believe the essence of the film remains unchanged, and I can still comment on its impact and creative merit.

(500) Days of Summer centres on Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) an architecture graduate who has been coasting for several years in a job at a greeting card company. A romantic at heart, Tom falls for his boss’s new assistant, Summer (Zooey Deschanel), and the film explores, in non-chronological order, the various highs and lows of the 500 days Summer is in Tom’s life.

The trailer for (500) Days of Summer makes the film appear more obvious and formulaic than it really is – a role reversal where Tom is head over heels in love with Summer but she doesn’t believe in romantic love at all. Instead she sends out all kinds of mixed signals as she just wants to be “friends”… “friends with benefits” that is.

Despite the fact that Summer is at heart a free spirit who encourages Tom to embrace change, and pursue his stagnating dreams, she isn’t the usual one-dimensional non-conformist so often depicted in romantic comedies (think Jennifer Aniston in Along Came Polly). Summer comes with plenty of issues of her own, and the audience, like Tom, bounces between loving and hating her as she fumbles with indecision.

It’s worth mentioning at this point that the performances of the 2 leads in (500) Days of Summer are excellent. Joseph Gordon-Levitt in particular, is outstanding and very likeable as the love-struck Tom.

(500) Days of Summer has its lighthearted moments, but it is for the most part a quite uncomfortable viewing experience, as it delves into painful truths about relationships that just aren’t working out – particularly when one partner is incapable of committing.

The film does have its drawbacks however. As an indie movie it can be too quirky for its own good at times, with an intermittent narrator butting in, and some bizarre fantasy sequences. Also, having been acclaimed to the degree it has, (500) Days of Summer teeters dangerously on the brink of over-hype, especially when you consider that the film’s 2 most prominent messages in the end are the all too conventional “Everything happens for a reason” and “When it’s right, there will be no doubt.”

(500) Days of Summer is well worth seeking out. It’s perhaps not Valentine’s Day viewing however, unless you’re a single in a positive state of mind about moving on and believing that the perfect partner is out there waiting for you. Personally I could really identify with this film, and appreciate it without feeling despondent – which makes it a very good and very thoughtful relationship movie as far as I’m concerned.


hanum said…
I like this movie a lot, it reminds me of someone. Good.. Good..

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