Friday, 2 October 2009

Review: (500) Days of Summer (2009)

Title: (500) Days of Summer

Rated: 12A
Release Date: 2nd September, 2009
Country: USA

Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel

Rating: 5/5

Plot: Heartbroken Tom Hansen (Levitt) reflects back on the last year and a half spent together with the love of his life, Summer Finn (Deschanel), a girl who refuses to believe that love exists.

Review: Having watched Levitt and Deschanel team up together for the powerful indie flick, Manic, a few years ago, I was eager to see them reunited in a film that critics haven't been able to stop praising since it hit the Sundance Film Festival at the beginning of the year. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed.

Perhaps the best thing about (500) Days of Summer is that it never promises to be bigger than it is. This is a simple tale about a boy who falls in love with a girl, and the complications that arise from that relationship. Hollywood has its legendary love stories - This is not one of them.

Over the course of 500 days, we explore the friendly meet-and-greet between Tom and Summer, the flirtations, the first kiss, and so on and so forth. But, as the viewer is warned from the very beginning, this is not a love story.

It's hard to describe what gives (500) Days of Summer that edge. What makes it different to other films that expore relationships? It's not filled to the brim with modern day wit; It doesn't contain a handful of classically over-the-top 'uh oh' comedy scenarios; It doesn't give you a toothache from unrealistic sweetness. Instead, what makes (500) Days of Summer different is its realism.

It realistically portrays a one-sided love affair and never overplays those touching moments (usually prolonged in Hollywood films for sentimental value). Tom and Summer aren't perfect characters, and that's what makes them so endearing.

Over the summer, critics have shown that they can't get enough of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Since his turn as Tommy in 3rd Rock from the Sun, the 28-year-old has shyed away from the media, choosing to work on his craft rather than stardom, in indie flicks such as Stop-Loss, Brick, and Mysterious Skin. With the surprising success of Days of Summer filmgoers and critics alike are amazed at how much talent Gordon-Levitt is showing since his days as a child actor. And I'll join them on that.

As Tom, Gordon-Levitt shows that he is not a former child star - He's a natural talent. He's clearly grown into a man who cares about his work, looking to film as pieces of art (rather than money, like a lot of young film stars these days). Having caught up on the other indie films Gordon-Levitt has been dabbling in in between 3rd Rock and Days of Summer, I was reminded of a young Pacino, Hoffman, or DeNiro - an actor who has strived to prove himself as an actor, not a celebrity.

It is Gordon-Levitt's natural charm that makes Days of Summer's Tom so appealing and, though the character isn't the most complex, it gives audiences a taster of more great things to come from the young actor. Tom's clear giddiness when he first meets Summer, and the horrible pain he goes through as things begin to take a downward turn are the kind of emotions so brilliantly portrayed that we can't help wanting to celebrate with him at first and then take him in our arms and tell him it's all going to be okay.

Zooey Deschanel's slight quirkiness and old-star elegance brings Summmer the depth she might have otherwise lacked and, together, the couple's chemistry combines to make a wonderful onscreen pairing.

(500) Days of Summer isn't a huge film. It won't overwhelm you and blow your mind with special effects. But it will make you laugh, cry, and think about those you hold close to you.

While it was The Time Traveler's Wife that was predicted to be the big hit romance film of the year, it is in fact this small-budget picture that has garnered a better response. And that's because (500) Days of Summer is everything The Time Traveler's Wife promised to be and wasn't.

(500) Days of Summer covers every aspect of a relationship from start to finish in its own understated, simple and sweet way. Nothing is missing.

I'd recommend just about everyone to go and see this. This isn't a chick flick. It isn't a love story. So guys, you make sure you go see it too. It'll be worth it. I promise.

Favourite Moment: The dance sequence after Tom and Summer's first night together.  


Ryan said...

I have an award for you kiddo:

Peter S. said...

Hi, Ceri! I think I'll have to wait for this movie in video. I don't think there's any plans of showing this movie here in Manila.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

Hey Ceri, I just wanted to say thanks for signing up for the 100 Mile Fitness Challenge. I'm really excited that others are interested in doing this with me. As I did the post yesterday on a very impromptu whim, I'm still not sure what I'll do with the blog, but probably weekly updates where everyone can give their status or progress and maybe some other fun things, too. Who knows! But glad you'll be joining us.

Jenny said...

I enjoyed this movie a lot too - I am not as in love with Zooey Deschanel as everyone seems to be, but I thought she was excellent as Summer. I loved it how we saw very little of what was going on with Summer's life - the movie was more about Tom's ideas about her and the relationship.

The Bookworm said...

This one does sound good, great review!

Lilue said...

Hey Ceri.. based on your review, i managed to catch the movie last weekend.. & it was worth it.. the movie is so cute & not over the top.. :)

Alyssa Kirk said...

This isn't something I'd normally watch but you're review is excellent. I'll have to check it out!

Ceri said...

Ryan - Hehe, you spoil me. :-D

Peter - Oh no, that's a shame. But I definitely recommend seeing it the first chance you get when it comes out on DVD. :)

Trish - Thanks for stopping over here. I can't wait to get started on the challenge. I'll be doing a post about it soon. :-D

Jenny - Yeah, that's one of the things I really enjoyed. I loved that you only got Tom's perception of things, and the split screen moments were heartbreaking.

Naida - Thanks. :)

Lilue - I'm so glad to hear that. :-D And I'm really glad you enjoyed it too.

Alyssa - Thank you so much. :-D

Sarbear said...

Now I want to see this -- I love Zooey Deschanel!

Anonymous said...

Ceri, this is my very first time on your site, and I must say, that it is inspiring :)

Ceri said...

Sarbear - If you like Zooey, you'll love this. :-D

Daniel - Thank you very much. That's really nice of you.

3m said...

I've heard such good things about this movie. It's definitely on my TBW (to be watched) list.

Glad you liked it!

Tales of Whimsy said...

I can't wait to see this :)