Monday, July 27, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer is the bubblegum pop music video version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, without the science fiction. It's every young man's celebration of frustration, a clinical case of fascination and rejection viewed from outside the fourth dimension. This film preys on young white male nostalgia much like Garden State or Adventureland, but focusing more on the relationship than the entire "coming of age" journey.

Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls head over heals for Summer (Zooey Deschanel), a receptionist at the greeting card company that Tom writes for (not quite the ideal job for an architecture major). We're told from the beginning that things don't work out, and the movie constantly jumps from day to day at different points in the relationship. This format allows for insight into different phrases or activities repeated throughout the film, each within a different emotional context at different phases of their relationship. We know from the beginning that it isn't going to work out between these quirky lovebirds, but the experience is in the journey, and the unconventional storytelling ultimately redeems the film for me.

This movie is a cutesy independent film, and it is incredibly aware of that fact. So many indy film cliches, so little time. In their mid-twenties. Some of the things that worked were the opening text (one of the funniest moments of the film) and a hysterical musical dance sequence. The one thing that really didn't work for me was his younger yet wiser 12 - 14 year-old sister whom he went to for relationship advise for some reason. Summer herself can often be unbearable and almost vile in the way she misleads and treats Tom. I found myself disliking her character so strongly that it might have hurt my appreciation of the film. This is Tom's movie, each heart-wrenching experience ripped from the real lives of the writers, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt is superb (as usual) in this role.

Despite it's downfalls, (500) Days of Summer does strike some chords of familiarity and nostalgia, and while the visceral impact was not as strong for me as with other films I mentioned, I deem it a success. It is often hilarious and even insightful, and the quirkiness can be infectious if you just sit back and accept this flamboyant celebration of cutesy independent film making for what it is.

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