500 Days of Summer
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has come a long way since the long-haired kid in “3rd Rock from the Sun.” His cool performance in the indie-noir BRICK and complex role in THE LOOKOUT were precursors to his expansion into bigger films like this summer’s GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA, but his dedication to showing his range is best shown in his role here in (500) DAYS OF SUMMER, a movie that will be categorized as a Romantic-Comedy (or, more cringingly, a rom-com) but actually emerges as something more, because it provides deeper insight into relationships than the typical, shallow rom-com where the charming and quirky guy meets the pretty girl and they fall in love. This movie respects that life is not like that, and is structured accordingly.
Speaking of structure, this film feels like a comic romance mixed with MEMENTO for all the jumping around it does. The 500 days of the relationship between Tom (Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel – with her HUGE eyes) is what is alluded to in the title and it is parenthetical because as the movie jumps around to the different days of their relationship, the time frame is always introduced with the day in parentheses. We start at the very end, bounce to the beginning, then towards the middle, back to the end. This disjointed way of viewing a relationship is reminiscent of the erased memories of ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, another great way of viewing a relationship.
Tom and Summer work together at a greeting card company; Tom as a writer and Summer as his boss’ (Clark Gregg) assistant. Tom is a romantic, believing Summer to be “the one” just at their shared liking of the band The Smiths. Never mind the fact that Summer doesn’t even believe in love, and builds walls around her to avoid its entrance into her life. Tom keeps trying to win her over, and eventually does. But their differences in their philosophy of love plays a key role throughout.
Music is used particularly well in the film, especially in two instances, one involving Hall & Oates “You Make My Dreams” at a key moment of a positive time in the relationship, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bookends” to accentuate a negative time. Also, during that negative time, Tom teaches us all a new remedy for the broken heart: orange juice, Twinkies, and Jack Daniels.
The rise and fall of this relationship is deeper than what we are usually presented with, and that makes it that much more important to us. We like Tom and even though our initial reaction to Summer’s lack of sensitivity toward Tom’s desire to love her is negative, she is defended later as having warned him of that in the first place. Though most of the story focuses on Tom, Summer’s being given a defense proves that the end of this relationship, like most, is not solely the fault of one party.
It is for that complexity, and the in-depth view we are allowed to get into this relationship, combined with a steady stream of comic injections and befitting musical interludes that make this movie a great addition to this summer’s line up. And a welcome change to how we are typically presented the most difficult of subjects – the human relationship.