Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel
Directed By: Marc Webb
Written By: Scott Neustadter, Michael Weber
I have always respected how Joseph Gordon-Levitt continues to take on deeply challenging roles. He largely sticks to the independent films, because those are the films that he believes in. He has given so many brilliantly breathtaking performances. At this point he has proven time and time again that he is simply incapable of anything less. Most of his films like Mysterious Skin, The Lookout, Manic, and Brick are very dark pieces. He continues to challenge himself further by doing something completely different from any of these films. His performance in 500 Days of Summer does seem to bring him back to his 3rd Rock From the Sun and 10 Things I Hate About You days since it is much lighter material and he shines just as brightly here. 500 Days of Summer is full of wit, comedy, and is not your average romantic comedy.
Tom (Gordon-Levitt) has aspirations to be an architect, but for the time being is stuck working for a greeting card business. One day he meets Summer (Deschanel), the new assistant to his boss. From the moment Tom lays eyes on her he falls for her. They exchange a few words here and there and eventually do become friends. Once Summer finds out that Tom likes her she makes a move on him. She doesn’t want a boyfriend, now or possibly ever. She doesn’t like labels or being someone else’s anything. Summer likes to be free and to be able to do what she wants. Tom wants more, he wants to share everything with her and he thinks that she could be the one he is meant to be with. Tom compromises what he wants just so he can have something with Summer. For awhile they have a lot of fun with each other and things are going great. There is a barrier there though since they really want different things. Without Summer, Tom feels completely empty and useless. Everything in his life seems so pointless and he wants to get her back more than anything.
After noticing that Joseph Gordon-Levitt, my favorite actor, and Zooey Deschanel, one of my favorite actresses, were starring in this film together, I knew it was a must see. The two have incredible chemistry, which shows the most when they take a trip to a furniture store. They act as if each furniture set up is part of their house, poking fun at things like their sinks not working, having multiple kitchens, and funny Chinese families being in their bathroom. There is just a very goofy and fun quality to their relationship at this point that both of the actors bring out with such charisma. Deschanel is delightful throughout the film, even when we are given reason not to be quite so fond of her character.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt hits perfectly on the highs and lows of relationships; how you can be the happiest you have ever been to the most miserable you have been in the blink of an eye. My favorite scene was one right after he has sex with Deschanel’s character for the first time. To illustrate that “I’m on top of the world” feeling he breaks out in dance to upbeat music while everyone around him joins in. The next shot is post-break up and he is completely miserable. The dancing scene was extremely funny, especially since Gordon-Levitt was so animated and downright giddy. He brings the right emotion to every stage of his character and there are a lot of them. He plays a character that is constantly changing and still gives a very honest and enjoyable portrayal of him.
500 Days of Summer’s structure is very different from most films. We witness Tom and Summer’s relationship out of chronological order. It skips back and forth between all of the days that they knew each other, picking one particular day to show us. We see when they break up then we see the first day they met. It goes from when they were happy and couldn’t get enough of each other to when Tom was still getting up the nerve to talk to Summer. By putting these drastically different moments together it really shows how quickly things can change.
One of the first scenes is right after Tom and Summer broke up, majority of the film is looking at all of the moments in between that led up to that. We don’t know the very ending, but we do know that they break up, hinting that this is a romance that isn’t without problems. Going back and forth watching all of these moments, knowing what they will lead up to, it is very interesting to see how things happened.
500 Days of Summer also does a great job of showing that when you like someone you only see the good things. When Tom was trying to get over Summer, he was still seeing her as the perfect woman who had fallen so deeply for, but left him anyway. It isn’t until he lets go of this idea that he begins to see some of the signs that she was drifting away from him and not as perfect for him as he wanted her to be.
500 Days of Summer doesn’t want to be the standard film of its genre and it makes that clear from the beginning. Before the first line even begins it establishes the comedy that will play a major role in the film. It also makes a point of this not being a love story. It deals with some very anti-love perspectives through those who have never felt it and cannot believe in it as well as those who have had it and lost it as well as their faith. The film is about not only Tom and Summer’s relationship, but his relationship with his friends, which is just as fun to watch. Tom’s friends were very funny, but they also give the male perspective that isn’t often in films like this. We are given so many different personalities and perspectives that it is great just watching how they all play out and work off of one another.
The film explores the question of whether true love does exist and if it does is there destiny and fate or is everything just coincidence? This gets in to something much more closer to life itself. Tom is not happy with his life. He is good at his job, but there is no love for what he is doing, yet he continues to do it day after day. Summer is very spontaneous and only does what she wants to do. Maybe he needed Summer to make him go after what he really wanted in life.
The writers really did an incredible job with this film. The dialogue is great, its funny, smart, and a breath of fresh air. The characters are all so diverse, but extremely developed. While we feel for Tom the most we see through the eyes of every character instead of just our main character. There is more than one story amidst the very different times in his life that the story takes place that are woven together incredibly well. 500 Days of Summer has a great story line, fresh and interesting characters, incredible performers that have such energy and spark, and is a very smart and hilarious film.