Since the Dutch train system was a mess yesterday, it took me about 2,5 hours longer to get home than usual. That sounds like a drag (and it was), but it also allowed me to watch a movie that I had been wanting to watch for quite some time now: 500 Days of Summer.
This movie stars Joseph Gorden-Levitt (Inception) as Tom Hansen and Zooey Deschanel (Yes Man, She & Him) as Summer Finn. Tom is an all round nice guy who is waiting for ‘the one’. His concept of true love, as the movie tells us, has been instilled in him by listening to sappy 60s music. When he meets Summer, he is convinced that she is ‘the one’ he’s been waiting for. There is only one problem: Summer doesn’t want a boyfriend and doesn’t believe in true love. They meet when Summer comes to work for the greeting card company for which Tom works and start spending more and more time together. After watching a movie together, some time into their ‘relationship’, Summer breaks up with Tom which sends him into a bout of depression where he only leaves his bed to buy liquor and fast food. Not too long after the break up they meet again when on their way to a wedding party and Summer invites Tom to a party she’s throwing. Little does Tom know that her party is her engagement party. Still not over the break up, Tom gets even more depressed and decides to quit his job and turn things around. Summer and Tom have a heart to heart at one of his favorite spots in LA (where the movie is set) and Tom decides it’s time to move on and starts interviewing for jobs as an architect (his actual degree). It’s when waiting for his interview that he meets another girl. And that’s where I’m going to stop telling you what happens, because that would be giving away what little clue this movie has.
The storyline is told from Tom’s perspective and not in the chronological order I just gave you. The storyline is leaping to and from several points within the 500 days that Tom & Summer are in a relationship/ talking to each other. It doesn’t even start at day one, but somewhere after she’s first broken up with him. At what point in time the action takes place is indicated by a screen with a number of the day, so you actually never get lost as a viewer at what point in time the story is playing. Like I said, there is no big ending to this story, and that in itself is the power of this movie. It’s clever, cute and incredibly charming and the organization of the plot is only part of that. Both Gorden-Levitt and Deschanel do an excellent job at portraying the two characters. Deschanel is as cute as a button with her laissez-faire attitude and big eyes and Gorden-Levitt is utterly convincing in his portrayal of the broken-hearted (ex-)boyfriend. Also the soundtrack is cleverly chosen, though I do think choosing Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition for two moments in the music is a bit much, but nevertheless the music is very supportive of the on screen action.
Also the way the movie is put together is anything but standard. I especially loved the scene where Tom is going to/ at Summer’s engagement party. In the left screen you can see what he hopes will happen, and in the right screen you can see what is actually happening. In other words, this movie isn’t so much about character development or how relationships develop, it’s more about how people deal with relationships viewed from one person’s perspective. Apart from the split screen scene, the use of colors, close ups and the way the movie was edited adds to the charm of the movie. These techniques are used to show the contrast between Tom’s emotions and feelings when he’s still with Summer and after they’ve broken up.
It’s not a tear-jerker, nor a comedy, yet there are plenty of aw moments as well as moments that make you smile. One of my favorite scenes is the one where Tom and Summer have just spent their first night together and he’s going to work. It’s poking fun, yet at the same time making an hommage to all those cheesy Look-at-me-I’m-in-love-musical-scenes that you often see in happy go lucky movies. However, this movie is far from a classic feel good movie, but nevertheless keeps you smiling at the end.
I just found this video they made to promote the movie! It’s cute and funny!