(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Director: Marc Webb Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Matthew Gray Gubler, Chloe Moretz
Certificate: 12 Running Time: 91 Minutes
Tagline: “Boy Meets Girl. Boy Falls In Love. Girl Doesn’t”
I’m sure we’ve all been in the uneviable situation that faces Tom (Gordon-Levitt – 10 Things I Hate About You) in this unconventional rom-com from Marc Webb – that being, his unrequited love for new work colleague, Summer (Deschanel – Yes Man, Failure To Launch). He is attracted to her immediately upon meeting her, a new employee at the greeting card company at which he has an unfullfilling job, but thinks her out of his league. That is until a chance encounter in the office elevator which reveals they have the same taste in music (in this case, The Smiths). And so begins their relationship, building slowly from friendship. But will she ultimately feel the same way as Tom?
The story is told over the titular 500 days, which indicates the period of time since Tom met Summer. They are not followed in any order and the films flits backwards and forwards between them showing at the one end, the good times as the new couple enjoy drunken karaoke sessions, a magical Ikea adventure, and long blissful conversations about nothing in particular, and at the other end, Tom’s broken heart and moping around after their breakup.
The problem is, Tom is one of those people who believes there is one true love out there for him, a soulmate. Summer doesn’t. Tom has spent his life patiently waiting for this one person he believes he will spend the rest of his life with. Summer casually goes from one day to the next without worrying too much about anything. Granted, it doesn’t sound like the ideal recipe for a relationship, but upon meeting Summer, Tom believes he’s met ‘The One’. Knowing the relationship doesn’t last from early on in the film’s run time doesn’t harm the enjoyment of the proceedings too much as the two main characters are appealing, and besides, the film starts off on ‘Day 488’, which still leaves 12 days for them to possibly reconcile!
Despite their diametrically opposing philosophies on love, both characters are very likeable. They each know how the other feels from the start, and neither makes any promises to each other. Helping to endear us to these characters are fine perfomances from the two leads. Joseph Gordon-Levitt will really have you rooting for Tom, and Zooey Deschanel, having recently progressed to leading roles, is making a career out of her, presumably natural, kooky deadpan demeanour, and her Summer, whilst not the quirkiest character she’s played so far, is intriguing and has seldom been lovelier. They have able support too, with McKenzie and Paul as Tom’s two best friends and, Rachel, his wise-beyond-her-years kid sister.
Overall, this is a really entertaining film with decent, if unspectacular, perfomances and likeable characters, which are equally important in my opinion. It has a slightly unsatisfactory ending, but it doesn’t gloss over the imperfections of the protaganists and seems to flourish in the details that many other rom-coms skip over in favour of more grandiose set-pieces (although there is a fantastic song and dance sequence here). Also important, in my opinion, is the soundtrack, which, I’m pleased to say, is top-notch here. Featuring both songs by the likes of The Smiths (naturally), Feist, and Regina Spektor, as well as a decent score, it sets the mood well, although the film does occasionally also use an out-of-place voiceover which pops up now and then just as you’ve forgotten that it exists. This is the first feature from Marc Webb, formally a music promo director, and it bodes well for upcoming projects from him.
RKS Score: 8/10