Oct 26, 2009

[Movies] (500) Days of Summer (2009)

(500) Days of SummerOver the years, I've grown to be quite the sucker for the art film and those films which try to emulate the style of an art film. You know what I mean - the movies that seem pretty common in terms of appeal but tweak their stories so they can get into film festivals around the world, thus somehow earning that artsy kind of label. I know, it's not a precise way of classifying these movies, but given the modern context, that's generally how these movies have turned out to be.

You can name major indie hits like Juno or sleeper drama hits like Crash and The Constant Gardener - whatever it is, by now you should have a decent enough idea of what kind of movies I'm talking about. I guess it's more because of their focus on the value of the story itself and the need for skilled storytelling as opposed to big name actors or amazing special effects. The movies don't even need to have to discuss a major news event or something of that kind - it just has to tell the story well.

Oh, and it needs an awesome soundtrack, too.

(500) Days of Summer is a romantic comedy at its core with all the trappings of an art film - it did feature at Sundance, after all.

The movie follows the life of greeting card writer Tom Hanson (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his confusing friendship / relationship with Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). This is documented in a non-linear format across the 500 days and you'll find yourself being whisked back and forth between the beginning of the relationship and a significant cool off period declared mid-way. Of course given the linear markers for the entire story, you know this almost means there's an end to things and naturally the larger question remains of what happens on the 500th day. Do they stay together? Do they drift apart? Does one day? Our media-trained minds are bound to filter through all these possible options over and over again during the movie.

I really liked the way they handled the transitions between the various time points as represented by the changing of the number on the sort of transition title page. And it's not like your typical movie where you explore each time period at length - there are instances when you will visit a point in the "past" very briefly, if only to explain certain parallels or connections to events later in the "future". This is all relatively speaking mind you - it's hard to describe the non-linear nature of things in a single review.

Both Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel were pretty impressive in their roles and they certainly knew how to play to their strengths as actors. We know that Gordon-Levitt has the geeky guy next door archetype pretty much figured out and Deschanel is great as the quirky, interesting girl.

The biggest strength of this movie definitely has to be the writing. The lines are witty but realistic - not the kind of over-the-top stuff we get in a lot of the recent comedies released. Plus there are just so many parallels and lines sort of quoted back from one to the other over the 500 days that it becomes important to be observant all throughout in order to better appreciate the overall design of the plot.

It's a feel good movie, to a certain degree with an ending that is rather atypical but not too unrealistic. It's not your typical Hollywood created marketable love story and so I can see how it probably didn't fly too well with certain audiences looking for stories with the same level of complexity as fairy tales.

Oh, and yes, the music was absolutely awesome - but this is a statement that one can only truly agree with if he or she already has an appreciation for music from the 80's.

(500) Days of Summer gets 5 witty greeting cards out of 5.

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