(500) Days of Summer (2009) – The most perfect visualization of relationships ever put on film.



Some films feel like genuine masterpieces that cannot nor ever will be topped by similar films. (500) Days of Summer is such a film; it is so perfectly crafted in its writing, direction, acting, editing and other major departments that after seeing it one feels off kilter, wondering if they had seen a fictional movie (as the title cards read in the opening) or a portal in which the inner workings of a young man and his quest for true love was connected directly to the audience. So strong and powerful was my emotional reaction and connection to this film, it could in many ways alter forever my view of relationships. Is that good or bad? As an indie-budget production, there are really only two sections that can make or break this type of film: writing and acting. The script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber is as close to perfect as I’ve ever seen in any film of any genre. The dialogue feels completely accurate and true to the context of the situations of the characters, the situations themselves are real and totally believable and the nonlinear narrative works extremely well in bringing the audience not only into a deeper sympathy with the Joseph Gordon-Levitt character but also in convincing us that a number of these scenes may be dreams. First-time director Marc Webb keeps the tricks to a minimum, using only what is necessary to support the story and not divert from it. The film is tight in its pace, which builds the tension and emotion all the more.

This now brings us to the acting which is, needless to say, flawless. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been a star-in-the-making for a while now but combining this performance with his in Christopher Nolan’s Inception proves he is truly one of the best young actors of this generation. He so perfectly handles both the funny and serious moments of Tom Hansen’s journey through love, completely believable in every single frame. He is a nice guy so we root for him, but his pain is visceral and tender so we identify with him. He creates one of the best protagonists I have ever seen in a movie. Zooey Deschanel is an actress I have loved ever since she played the perky, blonde singing elf in Elf. However, her game has been raised significantly from such trash as Failure to Launch. She creates a sympathetic character as well but in an entirely different way. Summer is a woman with many events in her life that would lead to her feeling about relationships the way she does. Therefore, it is understandable that she would do what she does in this film. Yet, there is no excuse given to properly and completely understand who and why she does what she does. We only get glimpses; we see her through Tom’s eyes and despite her great beauty and quirky personality, there is always the feeling that something deeper lingers below. Needless to say, the chemistry between the two leads is something to behold. I felt completely comfortable and enchanted by both of them, together and individually.

(500) Days of Summer

Getting down to it, why is this quite simply the best portrayal of relationships ever put to celluloid? Many would question that statement and it may not be true, but it is most certainly true for this generation that Tom and Summer represent. Here are two people on different paths that happen to cross. Is it fate or coincidence? Each has different views of that and by the end their views are slightly askew. The film would say that it’s a little of both. I think that is the best statement the writers and director could make. I have heard many detractors of the film say that it is too sad, that Summer is an unsympathetic person and the ending is completely false. I would simply remark that life is quite often too sad, Summer is sympathetic in a much different way than most romantic-comedy girls and the ending rang true in the sense that Tom’s journey isn’t over. Many, if not all, guys have been in Tom’s shoes. This makes it the best story about love for guys. It also makes it the type of film that when you see it, you feel changed inside.

The vast majority of films in this genre are totally dead and unrealistic. Films like Adventureland and (500) Days of Summer show that with the right script and the right cast, a story can be told that is funny, sad, smart and completely, utterly, totally, indubitably: perfect.

~ by Ayan on January 17, 2011.

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