Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Chloe Grace Moretz
Running Time: 1hr 35min
Boy meets girl, boy loses girl. That’s the basic premise of 500 Days of Summer. Tom meets Summer while working for a greeting card company (he wants to be an architect). The two click immediately and have an inescapable connection. They share intimate thoughts and feelings with each other – he takes her to his favorite spot in the city, she shares her dreams with him. Despite their differing view on love, they begin dating, and everything is bliss, until one day it isn’t.
After going to see The Graduate, a movie they both interpret differently, Summer breaks up with Tom over pancakes. Summer quits her job at the company, and Tom moves to a new department. While trying to move on, Tom starts dating again, with disastrous consequences, until a few months later when he spots Summer on the train en route to a co-worker’s wedding. He tries to avoid her, but she sees him and invites him out for coffee, which he readily accepts. They have a great time at the wedding, and she invites him to a party at her apartment. Tom think this will be a way to reconcile until he spots her engagement ring!
Following the revelation, Tom storms out and returns home, mired in depression, for a few weeks, and quits his job. After a pep talk from his sister Rachel, Tom decides it’s time to sort his life out and get back to being Tom. He builds an architecture portfolio and attends an interview, but, just before that, meets up with Summer. She tells him that she was wrong and that true love did exist, she just didn’t find it with him. They part on good terms. At his interview, Tom meets a girl also applying, and asks her out. He discovers her name is Autumn.
This is a story of boy meets girl, but it certainly ain’t a love story! This is how the omniscient narrator introduces us to 500 Days of Summer, and he’s absolutely right. In many ways, this is an anti-rom-com. Yes, it’s romantic, yes it’s funny, and yes it is about a relationship. But the movie explores the concept of love, and how it can often depend on whether the person is right for you.
Tom meets Summer at work, he believes in love, she doesn’t. They start dating. Then Tom is surprised when Summer isn’t in love with him – pretty big clue there, bro! Anyway, they break up, and Tom reminisces, as his friends and wiser younger sister help him move on. The story is told in the form of non-linear flashback narrative, and it certainly doesn’t pull punches. We learn that both Summer and Tom have flaws, and witness their meeting and romance, as well as the slow destruction of their relationship. It comes to a head when Tom discovers Summer is getting married!
The story could have failed at any number of points, but a tight script and some excellent performances keep it a fun and interesting story. It’s also a fresh and alternative way of a movie looking at human relationships, and not obsessed with having to have a big reconciliation. A delightful comedy, full of invention and originality, 500 Days of Summer packs a rom-com punch. There are a few cliches here and there, and Summer is not as interesting a character as she could have been, so these things stop it just short of becoming a modern classic.