Sunday 20 February 2022

Movie Review: 500 Days Of Summer (2009)

A sweet but ultimately still fickle romantic comedy, 500 Days Of Summer enjoys an amiable couple, hip music, and a scattered structure.

Working at a small greeting card company in Los Angeles, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) spots Summer (Zooey Deschanel), the new office assistant. They bond over music and he expresses interest in a relationship, but she does not believe in love and just wants to be friends, although after a few outings they start enjoying moments of intimacy. Summer encourages Tom to pursue his passion for a career in architecture.

As the relationship goes through ups and downs, Tom remains more invested than Summer. Exasperated by her mixed signals and the undefined nature of their relationship, his work suffers and he seeks advice from his young sister Rachel (Chloƫ Grace Moretz) and best friend McKenzie (Geoffrey Arend). A break-up and potential reunion beckon.

An independent production with a simple story of boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy maybe loses girl, 500 Days Of Summer is made to appear more intriguing with plenty of time hopping. Tom and Summer's story takes place over 500 days presented non-linearly, every scene introduced by a number between 1 and 500. Director Marc Webb also rides good chemistry between a winsome, low-key couple played with appealing brightness by Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel.

Adding to the chic quotient is an eccentric soundtrack celebrating non-mainstream musicians (including The Smiths) popular among the throngs eager to be labeled non-mainstream, the independent if questionable attitude underlined by Summer proclaiming Ringo as her favourite Beatle. Another brow-raising cultural oddity emerges through expressed appreciation for architectural landmarks in Los Angeles.

Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber otherwise navigate typical relationship challenges including a mismatch in commitment levels, twangs of jealousy, and misaligned communication styles. But try as it might, 500 Days Of Summer cannot escape most of the genre's contrivances, and Summer's "just friends with occasional benefits" stance is a rickety foundation from the outset. A misguided scene featuring the random public shouting of a body part name is cringey bad, and the final chapter is weak, contaminated by deceitful behaviour unbecoming of friends. 

With a mix of good days, bad days, and weird days, the outcome is bang on average.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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