500 Days of Summer is the first feature film of director Marc Webb and has deservedly been nominated in the Best Feature Film category at the Golden Globe Awards. The film is about Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who writes greeting cards even though he is an architect by training. He meets the new administrative assisstant at his office, Summer (Zooey Deschanel), and immediately knows that she’s the girl he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Boy meets girl. Then, the complexities surface. Summer doesn’t believe in relationships or boyfriends because she thinks life invariably gets in the way, and Tom thinks that fate brought them together and they’re meant to be. The film is a humorous account of the quirky, capricious nature of love.
The film is presented in a non-chronological narrative (a variation of Christopher Nolan’s Memento); it jumps between the 500 days of Tom and Summer’s relationship. It begins with telling us that the relationship has ended, and then details the how and why.
The lead actors blend into their characters perfectly, and pitch in very believable performances. Zooey Deschanel is very cute and sufficiently mysterious. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is great too, particularly in the scene where he quits his job. He explains to his boss how greeting card companies give people unrealistic expectations and how people have stopped thinking for themselves, because the words are fed to them.
The cohesiveness of the plot does come loose in a few scenes; one in particular is when Tom dances in the park after having slept with Summer. Another thing that baffled me is how his teenage sister seems to know more about personal relationships and is more worldly wise than him.
An interesting observation is that the movie is based in Los Angeles, yet is so unlike the other romantic films based in cities, where the plot is intertwined with the hustle bustle of city life. Tom and Summer reflect an alternate city lifestyle; they visit record shops, karaoke bars and find the perfect view of the city in a park. They manage to find peace in a big city.
The director experiments with story-telling. In one scene where Tom is going to a party at Summer’s place, there’s a split screen, showing his Expectations vs Reality. In one part of the screen, he expects to make up with her, and move on, but instead, in reality, it ends with him stomping out in frustration.
(500) Days of Summer may well be the best romantic comedy since Love Actually. This is one of the films that forms a bond with you in the very first scene and doesn’t let go throughout the duration, and for a considerable time afterwards.
[Image courtesy: http://www.atnzone.com/nz/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/500_days_of_summer_movie_image_joeseph_gordon_levit_and_zooey_deschanel.jpg]