Saturday, September 29, 2012

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Get ready for a little bit of everything in (500) Days of Summer.

There's split screens, characters talking straight to the camera, a story that moves back and forth in time, some black and white footage and even a voiceover.

There are many romantic comedies, a fact Matthew McGonaughey can give thanks for on a daily basis, but few worth seeing. Sorry, Matthew.

(500) Days of Summer is easy to fall in love with thanks to a smart script by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber. Some fine work by leads Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel helps a lot. Any major Hollywood release that spoofs Igmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal deserves a look.

Yes, some of the set-ups are overdone. There's the barely teenage younger sister who's the voice of wisdom when it comes to relationships. Wasn't Natalie Portman's character wise way beyond her years in Beautiful Girls (1995)?

A choreographed dance scene with our romantic male lead has also been done before, but let's give marks for the inspired choice of Hall and Oates' hit from 1981, You Make My Dreams.

Forgive those cliches and warm up to (500) Days of Summer.

Tom (Gordon-Levitt) doesn't expect he'll ever know true happiness until he meets The One. Summer (Deschanel) saw her parents break up when she was young. She doubts love exists. Summer doesn't want to be in a relationship.

"I like being on my own," she says on Day 28 of their relationship. "There's no such thing as love. It's fantasy."

With those backgrounds, Tom and Summer don't look like they'll be a good match. But there's a spark between these two greeting card workers. Tom writes card messages. Summer is the new assistant to his boss. He keeps regular updates about his feelings to friends McKenzie (Geoffrey Arend) and Paul (Matthew Gray Gabler).

Tom and Summer's relationship deepens. They start having sex. Summer starts telling Tom things she's never shared with anyone else before. He thinks he's broken through her relationship wall, that now she's ready to make a long-term commitment. Tom would be wrong. It's hard to blame Summer. She never said she was looking for a forever relationship.

(500) Days of Summer bounces around during their slightly longer than one-year relationship. Audiences see the good and the bad, but it takes some sage words of advice from a possible new romantic interest for Tom to see all the sides of his relationship with Summer.

Summer's a hard girl to figure out. Some of Tom's behaviour seems a little odd. He breaks plates over his head when things sour with Summer. Really? But, hey, this movie-goer will take characters that have a little depth to them rather than a standard romance.

RATING: 8/10

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