Notes On A Film: (500) Days Of Summer

‘The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Especially you Jenny Beckman.
Bitch.’

Any film that starts with something as funny as that introductory text is going to be a winner in my books. (500) Days of Summer is one of my favourite films of 2009, and it was a joy from start to finish, and anyone who disagrees doesn’t know what they are talking about.

(500) Days of Summer is a film about the 500 days of the relationship of Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel), from beginning to sad end, but told in a fractured manner, flipping back and forth in the time line to examine how it started, how it progressed and how it ended all at the same time. It’s the analysis of a romance that didn’t work, as remembered by the man, jumbled about to compare moments.

This is not a romcom, but it does have romance and comedy – there are beautiful moments in the middle of heartache, and there are some really funny pieces in there as well. The morning after sleeping with Summer, Tom is so happy he bursts into a song and dance routine (the director, Marc Webb, making his feature debut, used to do pop videos) that everyone walking in the street with him joins in with, even cartoon birds – it’s delightful, and it represents the emotion perfectly. It has a brilliant last line (and a great look to camera) that leaves you grinning, exactly the right sensation to have leaving a cinema.

Even though the relationship between the two characters starts via a shared love of The Smiths, the film tries for a timeless quality – Tom’s clothes are rather old-fashioned, in a quaint way, as he wears a cardigan with a studenty shirt and tie, harking back to a different era. Deschanel doesn’t feel like a contemporary beauty – she’s nothing like the identikit blonde girl that is prominent today, with her big blue eyes and elfin features. She also plays the ideal girl for Tom, ethereal and different, but she never feels completely whole as a character, which I think is deliberate – we are being told about her from Tom’s point of view, which is a fantasy of how perfect she is without understanding her completely.

As would be expected from somebody who has directed a lot of pop videos, the film has a great soundtrack (and I’m not a great fan of a lot of the music used in general), capturing the moments and tones of the scenes perfectly. The two leads are perfect, with Gordon-Levitt on particularly fine form. The script, obviously based on real life, sparkles with great lines and lovely moments, and the film charmed me senseless. I get the same smile on my face when I recall the movie as I had when I left the cinema, and I can’t wait to watch it again (and again) when I buy it on DVD.

Rating: DAVE/DAVID

[See here for my film rating system]

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