(500) Days of Summer chronicles one man's 500 day relationship with what he perceives to be the love of his life. The man, Tom, is a hopeless romantic, in every sense of the word. He is a firm believer in love, fate, and soulmates. The girl, Summer, is the exact opposite. She believes in seizing the moment, living impulsively, and having fun. Relationships, to her, are something to avoid. Their 500 day romance is improbable, but absolutely beautiful!
(500) Days of Summer ingeniously employs a Pulp Fiction-esque style to its storytelling. It tells the story in a non-linear fashion. You'll get day 38, followed by day 387, followed by day 154. This works really well here, because it nicely balances the humor with the drama. Tom and Summer are only romantically involved for about half of the 500 days; the film begins with their breakup and then jumps around the timeline, giving us glimpses into the bliss of the first 250 days, and the mind numbing depression that made up the latter 250. It all culminates in, what I believe is, a perfect ending, one that instantly sums up everything the movie is preaching.
You know, I make big deals about casts in these reviews. I'll frequently say a film has "a cast to die for", or "this director has assembled one of the most promising casts in a long time", and I stand by those remarks, but that fact remains that, if I ever were to cast a movie, I would put Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in the leads, and I would use this film as my argument to that fact! Both of them are simply amazing here!
Gordon-Levitt solidifies his standing as one of the most versatile actors working today with his sweet and earnest portrayal of Tom. Thanks to the out of whack storytelling, the film paints Tom as almost bi-polar, one minute jubilant, the next, downtrodden! Gordon-Levitt masterfully handles these mood shifts, all while making us empathize and connect with him.
Zooey Deschanel is just as good, if not better! She has played roles like this before. You know, the quirky muse, but this is best one she has taken on yet, and easily her best performance. She's funny, smart, sassy, sexy, and incredibly breathtaking as Summer. How could anyone not fall in love with her?
Other performances include Chloe Moretz, pre Hit-Girl, as Tom's wise sister, Geoffrey Arend and Matthew Gray Gubler as Tom's two best friends, and Clark Gregg as Tom and Summer's boss.
The performances here are all uniformly excellent, but you'll be forgiven if you only remember JGL and ZD in the end, because they are spectacular. They easily overcome all the conventions of the romantic-comedy genre and effortlessly create two people that anyone could fall for! I know I did!
Director Marc Webb is good, but it's the script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber that stands out! They have successfully revitalized the fading romantic comedy genre with (500) Days of Summer. The writing is biting, witty, wonderfully funny and deceptively poignant. There are plenty of elements to it that just wouldn't have worked in lesser hands, but Weber and Neustadter are not in the lesser hands group. There's a friggin' dance break about a third of the way in, which would have been just a cheap ploy to get laughs in other films, but, in (500) Days of Summer, it's a storytelling device, because it is the only thing that accurately captures what Tom is feeling! The dialogue stings, and the banter between Tom and Summer will leave wanting more and more!
But comedy isn't the only thing (500) Days of Summer excels at! In the drama department, it is in a league of its own. I haven't seen very many romantic comedies, but, of the one's I have seen, this is the one that most accurately captures how challenging and potentially damaging love can be. It so brilliantly captures how a one would react in situations like the ones here. Now, I'm only 18, so I have a lot of living to do, but, and I know this gonna sound crazy, I found myself relating to Tom in some instances. There's this one scene, where Tom's hopes and expectations of how a night will turn out play side by side with how it actually turned out. One has Tom ending the night in Summer's embrace; the other has him going home alone. All I could help but think during this scene was, "Shit! I've gone through this exact same thing before!" That's the mark of a great romantic film. When you relate to the characters on screen, you know something is being done correctly! It's not just cheap laughs and hammy exposition. It's real!
(500) Days of Summer, is, in my mind, a perfect film! Sure, there are some things that could have been handled a little differently! Chloe Moretz's character does seem a little fake sometimes, and I could have done without Richard McGonagle's narration. But, I find myself not caring about those minuscule flaws, because I find myself so in love with everything else. (500) Days of Summer is funny, sweet, smart, sad, uplifting, and thought provoking. It's masterfully acted, tightly directed, and impeccably written! The soundtrack kicks ass, and the dialogue is instantly quotable! I've said all I can say! Some of you may think I'm crazy, and can't possibly fathom how I could feel this way about the movie. To answer them, I'll use a line of Tom's. "It's love! It's not Santa Claus!"
BUT ON AN ENTIRELY NEW LEVEL!!!