Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Matthew Grey Gubler, Chloë Moretz, Geoffrey Arend
Plot: Tom develops a relationship with Summer, a girl with whom he falls madly in love with. When Summer abrumptly ends their relationship, Tom reflects on their prior 500 days together to piece together where it all went wrong.
Gentle romantic-comedies are not my thing, I have no interest in them generally speaking so it would take quite the film from within this genre to even pique my interest in watching it. After hearing of 500 Days Of Summer from a friend who’s opinion I trust and who endorsed it, I took the plunge and was pleasantly surprised. I think amongst the many things I like about this movie, the thing that jumps out the most is just how unlike regular examples of the genre this film is. Firstly the non-linear narrative structure completely took me by surprise, it’s not a simple A to B to C flow, the last thing I’d be expecting of a rom-com is for it to play around willingly with the way in which it presents itself. If there is an established formula for romantic-comedies, this facet is not part of that usual formula so from the off I was intrigued.
One of the most important aspects of the film is how broadly relatable its central theme is. I think most people have been in a relationship where one person falls harder than the other, everyone has had their Summer, so Tom’s predicament feels relatable, he becomes more likeable as a lead the more we can relate to his situation. It was a central conceit that felt real, too often in this genre the situations presented feel like a fairy tale ideal of what relationships are like, this film nails the reality of the situation on numerous occasions be it through daydream sequences like the wonderfully conceived dance routine from Joseph Gordon-Levitt to Hall & Oates: You Make My Dreams to illustrate that feeling of seemingly reciprocal love and the split-screen expectation Vs reality sequence when Tom meets Summer again following their breakup, he has a propensity to only remember the positive parts of their time together to justify his pursuit of getting Summer back against the ultimate realisation that despite his rose-tinted view, this girl is just as fallible and flawed as anyone else. This isn’t like in any other film where you’d be shouting “What the hell does he see in her?!” at the screen, bristling with incredulity, we view their time together through the lens of Tom’s perception of what he considered to be “the one”, the cracks only appearing as it dawns on Tom that she may not have been, it’s a refreshing way of keeping the narrative interesting.
This film is held together by its leads, not to rubbish the supporting cast who all do a fine job, though they are simply window dressing when laid against the principal actors. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel have crazy chemistry in this film, their attraction and subsequent relationship feels all the more believable because of this chemistry. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Tom is a likeable everyman sort of character, easily relatable, affable and someone we can sympathise with, he’s not your usual leading man material but he carries it wonderfully for this film. Zooey Deschanel is perfectly cast as Summer, her uncommon beauty and kooky charm fit the part perfectly leading us on the same journey as Tom in being enamoured and ultimately finding the flaws in this beguiling and infuriating woman.
It is not something you will hear me say very often about a romantic-comedy but I think you should watch 500 Days Of Summer. It is a well written, directed, intelligent and above all, honest film. The premise has some genuine originality to it coupled with the narrative devices used to convey it and the lead pairing of Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Zooey Deschanel is incredibly strong and believable. It may not make me a rom-com convert in the long term but at least there is one I can wholeheartedly recommend.