(500) Days of Summer

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Posted July 16, 2009 in Film

The day Summer (Zooey Deschanel) joins his greeting card company, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is smitten. (“This is not good,’ warns his friend McKenzie played by Geoffrey Arend.) Thirty days later, they kiss, and 252 days after that, it’s all over but 200 more days of Tom’s messy, messy breakdown. This time—skipping romantic tragicomedy is one of the year’s best films—a frank look at what happens when a dreamer loves a girl who, well,  likes him well enough. To Tom, Summer is The One; thanks to her, he now unironically hums “She’s Like the Wind.” Summer warns him straight away that she doesn’t believe in love, and writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber make us witness so much of Tom’s heartbreak that we (and he) start to come around to her pragmatism.

 

Director Marc Webb’s debut is honest yet given to moments of fancy. When Tom swaggers out of his apartment the morning after their first night together, his giddiness explodes into a dance number featuring a marching band and a cartoon bird. Later, when Tom vents that “these cards, these movies and these love songs—they’re to blame!” after realizing the gulf between his romantic expectations and his flatlined reality, we’ve seen how painful that divide is for him in a split-screen scene during a party that doesn’t measure up to Tom’s fantasy evening. Deschanel is so appealing and Gordon-Levitt so hopeful that we, too, can’t help rooting for their chemistry to create magic, but this is a film that so respects love—if it exists—that it won’t settle for imitations.


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