05 January 2010

Review: "(500) Days of Summer"

I hesitated seeing (500) Days of Summer for a long time because I have never been a fan of romantic comedies. I was also hesitant because I thought I would only be able to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt like the teenager from 3rd Rock From the Sun. I will admit that the only reason I ended up watching the film is because of Zooey Deschanel -- and I only really love her because of her guest starring role on Weeds. (500) Days of Summer is the feature film debut of Marc Webb, who has directed a great number of music videos from the likes of Backstreet Boys to My Chemical Romance. The film debuted at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, where it was overshadowed by the films Precious and An Education. The film is presented in nonlinear narrative, and although it is not as successful as Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction or David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, its unique take on the romantic comedy is refreshing and enjoyable.

The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom Hansen, a greeting card writer with an architecture degree. The film jumps back and forth as we are presented with various days through the 500 day relationship of Tom and Summer (Zooey Deschanel). He meets Summer at the office during her first day as his boss' new assistant. Through the use of an omnipotent narrator we learn that Tom believes in fate and true love, whereas Summer does not and is not keen on being in a relationship. Unlike most romantic comedies we know from the outset that Tom and Summer's relationship has an expiration date, and the film flows with a considerable amount of ease through the highs and lows of their relationship. The film's highlight is definitely the scene when, after waking up from his first night with Summer, Tom sings and dances on his way to work. What makes (500) Days of Summer so clever is that while in the elevator the day changes and we see Tom exit under a cloud, disheveled and depressed. We are able to witness their relationship through the eyes of Tom, and although we may be upset that their relationship is not mean tot be we are delighted to be along for the journey.

(500 Days of Summer tries very hard to stray from the romantic comedy formula, and while it is ultimately successful there are a few things that really bothered me. Tom has a pre-teen sister (Chloƫ Moretz) who serves as his therapist, too worldly for her young age. Their relationship did not bother me but I found its only purpose was to advance the plot. I also found it too predictable that Tom would be in a dead end job that he hated and that his happiness would only come when he chose to follow his dreams. The ending was also a little too predictable, and though it did put a slight smile on my face, it almost took away from everything else that had transpired because it tied everything in a neat bow at the end. I really enjoyed the narration, although I am a real fan of the positive effects of narration, though it does not really come close to the perfect narration of Little Children. (500) Days of Summer was much better than I had originally expected and I did enjoy every minute. It is a unique and enjoyable romantic comedy that should be praised for its originality.

My rating: 3.5 stars out of 4.

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