MWN Goes to the Movies – (500) Days of Summer
(Editors note – The following post contains mild spoilers for (500) Days of Summer)
Every now and again something gets released that speaks to me so personally I feel I have to tell the world about it, (500) Days of Summer is one of those films. Directed by Marc Webb and starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel and tells the story Tom (Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Deschanel) who meet one day when Summer starts working at the greeting cards company where Tom also works. After a chance encounter in a lift where Summer compliments Tom on his taste in music (The Smiths) Tom realises that she is the one. The film then follows the good, bad and very very ugly parts of their relationships but as we are told at the start of the film, this is not a love story, this is a story about love.
Webb has done a fantastic job directing the films non-linear narrative which may put people off but trust me, if this film had a traditional narrative structure people would walk out of this film very depressed. Each of the films scenes represent a day in the life of Tom and Summer and not only are they all fantastic they are also all unique as well. Whilst Webb’s shooting style won’t change the world, it’s simplicity enhances the film ensuring that the focus stays on the actors and not some fancy shooting style. Stand out scenes include drunk karaoke where Tom and Summer debate their opposing views on love and a dance number in the middle of the film which celebrates the first time Tom and Summer spend the night together which most guys will recognise as something that at least goes through their heads after they’ve spent the night with somebody special.
My favourite scene in the movie however isn’t a particularly happy one, Tom and Summer have been separated for some time but after reconciling at a former co-workers engagement party Tom agrees to attend a party Summer is holding at her apartment at the end of the week. What follows is a work of genius in my opinion, the screen is split into two and the words ‘Expectation’ and ‘Reality’ appear at the bottom of the screen the scene then plays but on one side of the screen is what Tom expects to happen at the party (Tom and Summer getting back together) and what is actually happening at the party (Tom spending most of his time alone, ignored by most of Summers other friends) before being unable to take it it any more and leaving, dejected and defeated leaving his world grey and lifeless (literally), all perfectly set to the haunting Original Sin by Regina Spektor. That’s a pretty poor explanation and you really do have too see it to understand but trust me, it’s pretty special. It’s one of those scenes that will have people, myself included wanting to shout at the screen “That’s me! I’ve felt like this!” which is what makes this film so great, it really does speak to people and make them look back on the relationships they’ve been in and maybe work out where it went wrong.
The acting is in the film is simply wonderful but then I wouldn’t expect anything less from Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt who pull off the on off romantics of Tom and Summer incredibly well, so well in fact you could probably mistake them for a real couple. Joesph Gordon-Levitt is the hopeless romantic in this film he truly believes in everything he’s ever watched, listened to or read about love and that there is only really one person for him in the world and that’s Summer and when she breaks his heart, his life really is over and I have a feeling a lot of the guys who go and see the movie will identify with the beliefs Tom holds over love. Whilst Summer isn’t that different to the roles that Deschanel normally plays it’s almost a role reversal because she’s the villain of the piece. Rather than being the one who gets her heart broken she’s the one that’s doing the breaking. It’s not just the leading couple who put in some great performances, Geoffrey Arend and Matthew Gray Gubler co-star in the film as Toms best friends who attempt to consul him when things go bad, they both only have small roles but they are both very, very good in the film. One of my favourite characters in the film is Tom’s 12 year sister Rachel who is fantastically played by Chloe Moretz. Rachel seems wise beyond her years as she doles out sage like advice to Tom as he works out what to do in a post Summer world, it’s a role that’s normally filled by a father figure or a friend and I think it’s a fantastic play on convention by getting a little girl to give out the mature advice.
So that’s my gushing look at (500) Days of Summer and I think you can probably tell I liked it, just a little but. I’ve seen it twice now at the cinema and if there’s time I will go and see it again, it really is that good. The only other thing to mention is the films soundtrack, with songs from Regina Spektor, Carla Bruni, Hall & Oates, The Temper Trap, The Smiths and a whole bunch more each song fits fantastically into the film but with Marc Webb’s background as a music video director that really is no surprise. So go see it and let me know what you think to the film that could very well be my film of the year.