Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tonight's Movie: (500) Days of Summer (2009)

(500) DAYS OF SUMMER randomly chronicles various incidents in the relationship of a young couple, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel). It's a creatively made film, although ultimately I found it emotionally unsatisfying.

Tom, a wannabe architect who works for a California greeting card company -- which improbably has New Hampshire in its name -- falls for the new employee, Summer. The film skips backwards and forwards in time, labeling each new sequence with the day in their relationship (i.e., "Day 151"), occasionally employing comedic narration to fill in narrative gaps. Another interesting technique employed is the use of a split screen to simultaneously depict "Expectations" versus "Reality."

Gordon-Levitt's whiny Tom ultimately matures into a somewhat more interesting character; one hopes that he eventually grows up enough to stop depending on his (very) little sister for guidance. Summer, on the other hand, is a vacant-eyed enigma from start to finish. I didn't care about Summer, who's pretty but selfish, and so I didn't care that Tom loved her; I also found Summer's destiny unbelievable based on what had been previously shown.

The film raises a question worth pondering: do viewers not know more about Summer and her motivations because the filmmakers erred and left out key information, or is the viewer not meant to understand Summer because we're seeing her through Tom's narrow perspective?

The movie was worth seeing and analyzing, but I felt detached from the characters. The very thing that makes the film unique also causes it problems. The style of filming screams "look at me and how different I am," while jumping backwards and forwards in time, without a strong emotional narrative or key character information, caused me to view the film more analytically than emotionally.

Despite my complaints, it's a worthwhile film which I would watch again; I just didn't feel the rave reviews it received earlier this year were justified. While the presentation was unique, the story itself was the age-old boy meets girl, boy loves girl, boy loses girl, and in this case the characters involved just weren't that appealing. One of the problems with so many cardboard, silly films being released these days, aimed at the lowest common denominator, is that any reasonably well-made film may receive stronger reviews than it deserves simply because of the contrast with all the dreck that's out there.

As is unfortunately par for the course, this PG-13 film was loaded with unnecessary language which merely served to underscore the characters' immaturity.

This film was directed by Marc Webb. It runs 95 minutes.

(500) DAYS OF SUMMER is available on widescreen DVD.


Blogger Tom said...

I agree with you on your points. I don't know if I'd see it again anytime soon - the ending made me smile, I must say, and was a big payoff. Also, I thought I was watching a Heath Ledger film the whole time - Gordon Levitt looks just like him.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tom. It's fun to hear how different people perceive the film.

One of the things I especially liked and neglected to mention in my post was some nice location filming in the Los Angeles area.

Best wishes,

10:11 PM  

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