“This is a story of boy meets girl.” With some awesome cinematic wrapping… and that’s about it.
(500) Days of Summer (2009) is a romantic/drama/comedy directed by Marc Webb (Amazing Spiderman, Amazing Spiderman 2). It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom, a young man who believes true love exists and falls for a girl at his workplace called Summer (Zooey Deschanel). The film jumps around the 500 days of their relationship as they fall for one another, break up and move on.
The film opens by saying ‘this is a story of boy meets girl’. ‘But its not a love story. Its a story about love.’ From that description, its not hard to guess what this movie is – and sadly its nothing more than that. While the non-linear structure of the film is brilliantly offbeat and amusing, it acts almost like a defence mechanism as the narrative at its core is noticeably standard. That’s not to say its done poorly – as sad love stories go, this is a good one – but it hits every beat and every moment. Out of order, certainly, but it can’t hide itself. On top of that, the film misses an opportunity to comment on relationships in a way you would expect in an indie romance. There’s moments, but are few and often instead fall back on just watching the relationship beats play out.
So why do I still really like this movie? Well the narrative may be dull, but the presentation is anything but. The film is charged with eclectic energy from start to finish, jumping from moment to moment like sparks between power-lines. Its infectious. Narration, animation, split-screen, dream sequences, montages… it all works wonders and is worth the price of admission for any film fan.
Moving on to the next carriage of the positive train is the performances. JGL is an easy protagonist to follow, imbued with all the charm and likeability of all of his performances. Zooey Deschanel is quite good as a contrast with JGL, but its easy to see why Tom is the protagonist over Summer as the character can get grating.
In summary, (500) Days can be compared to a fancy cake. It looks amazing, with all the bright frosting and intricate decorations, but once you take a slice it just can’t live up to how good it looks. So Days is still an energized, visually creative piece of cinema that is sure to tick all the right boxes for lovers of romance, drama and comedy. But people cynical to the romance segment may be found wanting a different slice.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended
Arthousers: Highly Recommended