In the beginning of (500) Days of Summer the narrator lets the audience in on a little secret by telling us not to get our hopes up with his “this is not a love story” jab to the heart. Not wanting to believe the worse, my internal monologue told me to ignore his bout of pessimism. But color me a hopeless romantic. As the days continue and the relationship unravels I realized that maybe he was on to something, but I still feel that when all is said and done his words were only partially true. I would argue that this is a love story, just not the one I was hoping for (which is not to mean that I left disappointed). Instead this was filled with the ups and downs of the cute but slipping romance of the characters, Summer Finn and Tom Hansen, played by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt respectively.
Speaking of the actors, for the most part I would consider these roles perfectly cast and acted, however, Gordon-Levitt is slightly stronger, pulling the sympathy to his side. One such scene that displays his talent involves his character’s breakdown in the meeting at work. He enters, fully depressed following his breakup with Deschanel, and eventually comes to the conclusion that every person in the room is a horrible human being, selling lies to the masses through the cards they create. In defense of Deschanel, she played Levitt’s love interest really well, but a friend made the point afterwards that she seems to play the doe eyed love interest in all the movies she does. But maybe this is just because her performance in Gigantic is still fresh in our minds (Don’t even get me started on that movie)…
But back to the film. There is far more to this film than just the performances pulling it ahead of the pack of generic romantic comedies. Take the editing and stylistic choices made. Some really interesting moments could be brought out in this film by having it stray from going chronologically. This really helped to bring the ups and downs of the relationship to a forefront, one example being Levitt’s character giddily smiling as he entered the elevator, only to exit with a look of total misery across his face, clearly produced from a later part of the relationship. Another great choice to show Tom’s mind at work was toward the end when there was a split screen showing what the character wishes were happening as he goes to Summer’s party vs. what is actually happening. Total brilliance.
Though this “love story” can seem depressing considering the path it takes, the movie is still filled with so many memorable and comedic moments to make the relationship more than worth the 500 days it took. There is a game of house during a trip to IKEA, words of wisdom from Tom’s sister, his favorite spot, his remodeling of the blackboard wall in his room, etc. And above all I am glad that when all is said and done, it ended on a hopeful note.
Final Grade: A