This “Summer” has lasting power
Don’t be fooled by those who call “(500) Days of Summer” a romantic comedy. In the film’s defense, it states right up front it is not a love story. But that doesn’t mean that its lack of romantic impulses or comedic contrivances don’t add up to one of the year’s most thoughtful films.
it doesn’t entertain as much as it provokes. “She’s not that into you” could be its subtitle. It may not be intentional, but the film underscores the breakdown of so many relationships in today’s commitment-phobia post- modern society.
In one of the film’s many novel twists, the fragile heart belongs to a young man, namely greeting card writer Tom, played by sleepy-eyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt (television’s “3rd Rock from the Sun”). Instantly likeable himself, his character immediately falls hard for new girl in the office Summer, and who wouldn’t since she is portrayed here by the fetching and sunny Zoey Deschanel (“Yes Man”).
The film chronicles their 18 months or so together by bouncing back and forth at different intervals. Keeping our interest piqued is the fact that, though we are made aware of the couple’s future disenchantment, we root for them to work things out.
Complicating matters is Summer’s stated intention not to get ‘serious” with anyone-something Tom ignores and hopes to overcome.
Does Summer’s willingness to invest significant time with Tom, opening up her heart and soul to him in the process, amount to some form of exploitation? Her boundaries were clear from the outset but she has to know Tom is falling for her.
Dialogue-centered, recalling some of Woody Allen’s early relationship films, “(500) Days of Summer” is not without whimsy and creative, unconventional devices, among them an unexpected musical number and a revealing split-screen effect. But it is prone to cliché too; an impossibly wise beyond her years, advice-giving younger sister (Chloe Moretz) for example.
“(500) Days of Summer” prompts more questions than the movie tries to answer, a sign of a smart film that may mean something different to everyone who sees it and lends itself to intriguing post-movie discussion.
But it seems reasonable to conclude that Tom and Summer represent many couples today who are in relationships for different reasons, and despite our efforts to deny it or ignore it, intimacy comes with a price.
Charming yet brutally honest, “(500) Days of Summer” sticks out in these dog days of low concept, high budget fare and offers a certain mainstream appeal for anyone who’s experienced love’s thorny and persuasive illusions.
Rated PG-13 for sexual material and language.