- Released Internationally on 17/07/09
- Released in Malta by KRS on 07/10/09
In a nutshell
"This is a story of boy meets girl. But you should know up front, this is not a love story.”
The above warning opens the film, so don't take it out on me for spoiling any surprises. A few breaths later, the solemn narrator (veteran voice actor Richard McGonagle) also provides an explanatory note about the film's title. Summer is the name of the girl in question. The boy, a young romantic named Tom, is an architect who somehow ends up working in a greeting card company, writing those funny or touching few lines inside the cards we buy for loved ones. He's not particularly fond of his workplace, until Summer breezes in to work as his boss' assistant. Thus begins Day 1.
The days between
As expected the film covers the 500 eventful days in this love-struck man's life, from the moment he sets eyes on Summer, to the time he finally manages to move on. The film jumps back and forth between various key days amongst those 500, and very early on we meet him on a particularly bad day, when he has been unceremoniously dumped. By slowly unveiling his states of misery and elation in different points in the relationship, the non-linear narrative of the film manages to be interesting and occasionally surprising, without getting too complicated.
Love is grand
Resisting his pathetic advances at first, Summer eventually warms to his boyish charm and something more than friendship blossoms, despite her being adamant about not wanting a relationship. As tends to happen, he quickly falls head over heels in love, and before you know it even strangers in the street seem friendlier, and his walk to work becomes a march of fresh air and a bouncy celebration of what's right in the world (as well as a hilarious set-piece resembling something out of Enchanted). Everything about Summer makes him glow - her knees, her hair, her lips, her quirks. His work performance follows suit, but we all know it's short lived.
Despite returning his affections, Summer isn't exactly skipping to work herself, and once some bickering and strained feelings set in, she calls it a day. Shocked to his core, Tom unravels within days, reduced to a bed-bound depressive wreck and eventually risking his health and job. Everything about Summer makes him seethe - her knees, her hair, her lips, her quirks. He looks back in anger, and like every heartbroken young man he declares that he doesn't want to get over her - he wants her back. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who looks uncannily like the late Heath Ledger, and who appeared opposite him in 10 Things I Hate About You) is instantly likeable as Tom, whilst managing to symbolise pathetic love-casualties everywhere.
The only advice his friends, co-workers and sister can offer him is a selection of overused clichés of the 'many fish' variety, but ultimately Tom manages to slowly stagger to his feet and get his life back on track. Like the rest of the film, his attempt at recovery and closure is complex but refreshingly genuine and realistic. This persistent sense of realism is largely due to the wonderful performance by Zooey Deschanel (The Happening, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). Her Summer is a true girl next door - a three-dimensional, lovely yet flawed person whom we can easily fall in love with one minute and despise the next. Her unconventional portrayal is possibly the one ingredient that makes this romantic comedy trump many of its peers.
In the end
The ‘love’ section at any DVD store is quite crowded, but with different facets, settings and characters we are occasionally still treated to something fresh and memorable. This unassuming film doesn’t try to be too epic or authoritative on the subject, but by narrowing its focus it manages to hit many nails on many heads, and also to be one of the most pleasant films of the year.
http://www.apple.com/trailers/fox_searchlight/500daysofsummer/ (High-res QuickTime)