Monday, September 21, 2009

(500) days of summer

This movie, which could also be known as (500) Shots of Zooey Deschanel’s Baby Blues, is a snapshot of the lives of twentysomethings Summer and Tom over five hundred of their days together. It’s a love story, but it’s not how you expect it to be—and not how ol’ romantic Tom nor cynical Summer expect either. Tom believes Summer is The One, but Summer tells him from the get-go that she is no believer in true love, only people having fun together. In the least shocking news of the year, Tom cannot resist Summer.

And who could? Zooey Deschanel is just about as cute as they come, and the camera loves her. Even when she’s not wearing makeup she is still adorable, and the costume designer has put her in glorious outfits and tied her hair up with cornflower blue ribbons. You’d hope, as a bitter cinema viewer drinking an unhealthy amount of flat movie Coke and rubbing your squishy belly in jealousy, that you could be pleased with a scene that sticks her drunk on a karaoke platform and watch her embarrass herself. Alas, no, and the She & Him singer does nothing but endear herself further to everyone in the film and cinema. Sigh. Over the course of their five hundred days, as we skip back and forth in time, she is not always perfect—but then who of us isn't at least once over a year and a half? Apart from me, obviously.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom sufficiently walks the line between respectable and scruffy, and you really feel for him when Summer gives out what would usually be a fairly clear signal of affection while telling him not to get attached. He does suffer from always coming across like a jerk in the few interactions with his two best pals and his infinitely wiser twelve-year-old sister, whom he consults with when things between he and Summer start to go awry. However, Tom also has one of the best scenes in the movie, as he happily heads to work the morning after his first date with Summer and the world responds to his mood with cheerful dancing in the park and an unexpected but hilarious Star Wars aside. Still, I had a real, physical problem in believing Gordon-Levitt as a grown-up with a job, and not as a teenager a la 10 Things I Hate About You/3rd Rock From The Sun. Part of me wanted to get in the screen and tell Zooey off for romping with someone I could not personally detach from his youth. I would follow that lecture with a kick in the shins for The Happening.

The song-and-dance isn’t the only little strange bit of non-reality in the movie, with occasional little breaks of style and pace into animation or documentary-style filming, and infrequent narration in the manner of Morgan Freeman observing all this from his Shawshank cell. The soundtrack is a highlight, and something we’ve already sold a handful of at work. Altogether, it makes for a nice little movie that is not quite romance or drama or comedy, but has some of each element within. As the kind of person who is utterly convinced by love, I was always on Tom’s side, but I never truly hated Summer, even when she does something quite hurtful at the end of the movie. And I left this movie on a sunny Monday afternoon feeling fairly generous towards the world-if not the Hoyts cinema that chose to show this film on the ludicrously expensive Xtreme Screen instead of showing something actually Xtreme like G-Force or District 9. Honestly.

1 comment:

  1. Saw this last night with Tall Sean. Found it to be rather delightful, but I must admit that I was well and truly fed up with Zooey by the end (especially by the end!). I've decided I prefer the elder Deschanel sister.
    I liked the way that the continuity skipped all over the place, but thought that there needed to be more lil' sister. Also, on account of my terrible lust-crush on the snake-hipped, girlie haircutted, Matthew Gray Gubler I can't help wishing there'd been more interaction with Tom's friends.


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