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Movie Review: (500) Days of Summer

Have you ever wished that Hollywood would get off of its high horse and stop making movies to please the masses and finally make a movie about you? If so, look no further than (500) Days of Summer starring former-child-actor-turned-adult-actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Angels in the Outfield, 3rd Rock from the Sun) and indie-queen (princess?) Zooey Deschanel (Almost Famous, Elf). Despite what the narrator proclaims in the opening scene, this is a love story. At the very least you will find yourself falling in love with this movie.

Tom (Gordon-Levitt) is a hopeless romantic who believes that he cannot be fully happy until he finds that elusive “one”. Summer (Deschanel) is her own person who is out to enjoy life and not worry about being attached to anyone or anything for too long. If these roles seem backwards to you, it’s because it is. This is the first instance where first-time writers Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter pull away from the tradition rom-com formula.

The film lets us know that Tom’s ship is doomed from the start. The opening scene shows a nearly incapacitated Tom who has just been dumped by Summer, the love of his life. Tom’s wiser-than-her-years sister (Chloe Moretz) comes to his rescue and wants to hear the entire story. From there we begin the 500-day journey starting at day 1.

In addition to a wonderful script, free of over-the-top dialogue found in most independent films today, is a unique form of story-telling that involves jumps in time and clever architecture. But this is not Memento, this is a romantic comedy, remember? You might forget that fact while watching this film. First-time director Marc Webb, who is responsible for one of my favorite music videos of all time, uses an animated flip-card system so that the audience always knows what day of the ill-fated 500 we are witnessing and how Tom’s mood is on that particular day.

The unique aspect of this film lies in the perception. The entire movie is told completely from Tom’s viewpoint. There is not a single scene where Tom is not present (if he was not there, it did not happen, right?). Summer’s character may seem flawed by the fact that she is too much of the perfect girl. But one has to remember that this story is how Tom remembers her. Tom thought that Summer was “the one”, so he will rightfully describe her as so.

I dare you to go see this movie and not somehow relate to Tom. Whether you are a man or a woman, everyone has had a Summer in his or her life. That perfect person who you thought was “the one” but the other person just was not having it. Later in life, you realize you were never meant to be, but at the time it is devastating. Summer is based off of a real-life experience by one of the writers and because of that the whole story just feels real. Tom and Summer do average things together; lunch in the park, shopping at IKEA, seeing movies. This is not a typical rom-com where the characters go on some grand adventure that makes your own romantic life look depressing.

Additionally, I dare you to go see this movie and not have the pants charmed right off of you. (500) Days of Summer is funny, but it will not have you rolling in the aisles. It is sad, but it will not have you crying the whole way home. Instead, (500) Days of Summer will leave you appreciating the fact that it seems like someone out there is not interested in making a cliché romantic comedy and that someone truly gets what it means to be heartbroken. (500) Days of Summer is not only fresh romantic comedy in a world of staleness, but also a sigh of relief for the independent film market and will completely redefine both genres. This is not a love story. And this is not a typical romantic comedy.

(5/5)