(500) Days of Summer (2009)

(On TV, December 2014)  Romantic comedies are too-often considered from the point of view of the woman that it’s still a bit of a novelty when one is told from the point of view of the man.  It’s even rarer to tell a very funny film about a relationship that doesn’t end well.  I’m not spoiling much about the film given its definitive title and non-linear narration, in which we jump back and forth between the seasons of a romance, and know that it’s not going to end with the union of the protagonists.  How we get there, however, it more than part of the charm.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt (offering an interesting counterpoint to his latter role in Don Jon) plays the protagonist, a young man infatuated with the idea of romantic love and having the misfortune of loving someone who definitely doesn’t.  The film is told from his perspective so closely that the female lead character isn’t much more than a superficial façade behind which he stuffs his hopes and dreams.  (Ironic points for casting Zooey Deschannel, often liked for her persona than her specific characters)  That it doesn’t quite work like that is part of the film’s ironies.  Fortunately, the writing of the film is crisp and hip (musical number?  Sure!), blending modern cynicism with very real heartbreak.  That it works, and ends on a relatively high note (not only punning on the film’s title, but appropriately – for a budding architect- climaxing within Los Angeles’ Bradbury building) is an eloquent testimony to the film’s peppiness, from two likable lead actors to a style that throws everything on-screen in a dizzying montage of narration, pop music, flights of fancy and plain old good moviemaking –it’s an impressive debut for director Marc Webb, who should take a break from the meaningless Spider-Man films and get back to these kind of films.  Occasionally hipsterish, (500) Days of Summer nonetheless feels like an original take on an overdone genre, and more than worth a look even for those who think they are tired of romantic comedies. 

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