I Watched: (500) Days of Summer

Ok, so here’s my first attempt at writing a movie review. If it sucks then…it sucks and I’ll move on.

(500) Days of Summer- (2009)- Dir. Marc Webb- 95 min- USA

(500) Days of Summer has been garnering hype since its run at the Sundance Film Festival (at least that’s when I first heard about it). In about mid-July, it began a limited release in several few cities. This past weekend, it was finally released nation-wide. Overall, there have been very few gems this Summer movie season. But I was told by reliable sources, friends who are casual movie-goers and friends who I would consider “film people/snobs”, that this was a must see. Also, the reviews online were very positive (89% on Rotten Tomatoes).

The story is a very classic boy meets girl, boy and girl have a good time, girl breaks boy’s heart, boy gets hella emo story. One with a kind of similar story that I liked was Forgetting Sarah Marshall. But this film somehow finds a way to bring in originality and a breath of fresh air to a very saturated genre, the romantic comedy.

A simple way to describe the film? Imagine a visual representation of DJ Neil Armstrong’s Bittersweeet Mixtape, but on shuffle.

This is the feature length debut for director, Marc Webb. He’s mostly known for his work with music videos, hitting a wide range of genres. The main male character, Tom, is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Most of us know him from his younger days on 3rd Rock From the Sun. Since then, he’s been a fixture on the indie-movie circuit. The main female character, Summer, is played by Zooey Deschanel, who I will always know as Will Ferrell’s lovable love interest from Elf, but she’s been a few mainstream movies since then.

One of the first things that impressed me (besides the intro where the writers hint towards the inspiration of the film) was the way the story was told. Instead of a linear, day 1- day 500 style, the story is told by hitting different, seemingly random parts of Tom’s 500 days with Summer. But with good film making, nothing is ever random. The scenes set the next one up perfectly. You see the good times. Then you see the inevitable break up, which makes seeing the good times depressing because you know the end result. As the voice over says, it is not a love story. And if you don’t believe him, seeing the break up in the beginning will make sure you do. But having it in the beginning works because that’s not what the movie is about.

A big part of the film is how well the main characters work. Having good main actors who can act and embody their part seems to be a no-brainer, but have you seen some of the movies this summer? For most, you have either been Tom in your life, or you knew someone like him. Alone, but still a hopeless romantic. Not a bad guy. Just someone impatient to meet ‘the one’. And someone who misinterpreted ‘The Graduate’. Hehe. With Summer, you want to dislike her because of her cold, unemotional response to Tom’s love. But in the end, you can’t. No matter how much you want to. You can’t because in the end, she’s right. Fuckin’ right. You get a small glimpse into her journey, which reminds you that there’s always a reason to how we view the world. But you can’t help but wish that she experiences the same heartbreak Tom did. Oh, was that just my vengeful ass talking? Ha! The main actors make you love and sympathize with them. Seems to be job #1 in a movie right? In a perfect world…

I can’t say enough about the story. I’m probably biased because I related a little bit too much to it. But for someone with those wombs still fresh, it hit way too close to home. In a good way though. You see the entire lifespan of a romantic relationship, not in complete order of course. The good, the great, the bad, and the ugly break up. They even leave you in the beginning with hope that it’s going to work out. In another romantic comedy, probably. But this film is there to show the ugly, messy part where you want to yell every obscene word at ‘them’, but in a nano-second take them back if given the chance. In the end something has to give. It did, even if it’s not the way you wanted it to.

I enjoyed all the intangibles. The soundtrack matched the mood of the film. It helped that they picked some damn good music. It helps that I’m a Smiths fan. The cinematography was on point, capturing some good angles and shots of the city. I’m always a sucker for those ‘reflection-off-the-car-window’ shots. The colors they picked added even more to the tone. I’m no color expert, but the light, grey/ white/ black general color scheme went with the overall theme and feel of the movie. It’s this attention to detail which separate movies from each other. The supporting cast help move the story along, in particular Tom’s little sister, Rachel (played by Chloe Moretz).

A couple scenes worth mentioning: Tom’s music and dance sequence after his first night with Summer (I remember that exact feeling!), the parallel view of Tom’s expectations and Tom’s reality (I remember that actually happening to me!), and the elevator scene where she hears him listening to the Smiths (Still waiting to meet a girl that way!).

I did catch some things I didn’t like. For example, there was a slow motion part that seemed to match the piano music in the background, but I felt lost the pacing of the scene. But I could just be nitpicking, oh well.

Overall, I loved it. Again, I’m probably biased because I very much related to the story. But it’s worth seeing, especially if you can relate to the story. If you want a traditional happy ending, you may want to watch something else. If you want a movie that’s going to be honest, kick you in the ass, and remind you that things don’t always end up the way you want, you NEED to watch this. Oh, and it does end on a hopeful note.

My rating system: I’d rather ____ .

I’d rather: not relive the horrible pain and trauma that the movie reminds me of, but it’s good enough to suffer through it again and again.

The lightsaber scale: Darth Maul (which is pretty damn good)

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