Friday, July 31, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer isn't your typical date movie. In fact, in many ways it's almost an anti-date film. Through the eyes of Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon Levitt) we are shown the ups and downs of his relationship with Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). Those couples looking for a fun romantic evening should choose this one only if they're very comfortable and confident in their relationship. Otherwise the evening might turn a little more uncomfortable than what you planned.

Rather than giving us a linear look the script, written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, jumps through the timeline of the relationship for maximum effect. Sometimes this provides hilarious juxtaposition, and at other moments you're allowed to feel Tom's pain. To help you follow the timeline title cards and narration (provided by Jean-Paul Vignon) are provided.

Without a doubt it's the cutest film about a doomed relationship I've ever seen. Those who have been involved in love affairs where one side feels more passionately than the other will no doubt understand and empathize with Tom's plight.

There's much to enjoy here. Gordon-Levitt is well cast and has a knack for both the early relationship awkwardness and the later despondency of Tom. Deschanel is once again cast as the outwardly charming indie love interest she does so well.

Although very strong, the film doesn't quite reach the levels of greatness to which it aspires. One issue is the character of Summer who we view only through Tom's eyes. Through much of the film the audience never really gets to know her. It's only at the end when a harsh light is shone on the relationship that we finally get a clear picture of the two characters and the reasons for their parting of ways.

There are some nice supporting performances, my favorite being young Chloe Moretz as Tom's much younger, but much wiser, sister. The interplay between the two provides some of the best jokes of the film and some necessary perspective on the relationship.

I know there were people at the screening I attended who enjoyed the film more than I did, and although I liked it, I couldn't shake the feeling I was watching a lesser Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind without the more interesting sci-fi elements.

Without giving too much away, if I have a major criticism its with the film's final act which cements how I felt about both Tom and Summer. I also felt uncomfortable with a late scene which sole purpose seemed to be to soften an unseen blow and makes us feel better about the outcome of the film. However, I will admit to enjoying the final joke of the film which, although a bit too cute, does get a deserved chuckle or two.

(500) Days of Summer will provide you with an interesting evening, a few laughs, and perhaps some thoughts on past and present relationships. It's not a film I would return to often, but it's an easy recommendation to make.

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