(500) Days of Summer“This is not a love story. This is a story about love.” If cheesy tag-lines tend to put you off watching a film then it might be a hard decision to put this in the DVD player on a Saturday night. Once that hurdle has been surpassed however this will most likely be one of the better rom-coms of 2009. Then again, it might not be entirely fair to call it a that either because (500) Days of Summer sits somewhat oddly between genres mixing rom-com with with indie sensibilities and pure oddball comedy. The film is genuinely funny and very original and should be equally enjoyable for both audience genders.

Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) firmly believes in true love and has always waited to find “the one” when he meets the free spirited Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) who, unfortunately, does not share this belief. After some initial doubts the pair begin a relationship that blossoms and grows but will ultimately end. Like the tag-line says: This is not a love story. The film follows various episodes of their relationship out of chronological order and it is these often funny, sometimes sad episodes that the real emotional heart of the film is to be found. For what we witness aren’t moments covered in Hollywood gloss but the moments that make up real relationships, those bits and pieces of conversation and everyday existence that usually end up on the cutting-room floor in regular rom-coms. Notice for example how the pair meet quite simply at their place of work whereas Hugh Grant would have to spill some orange juice first.

Perhaps the reason the film has caught on with moviegoers both male and female is because most people can place themselves in the shoes of either character. Tom and Summer work as a couple just one falls in love and the other doesn’t and the relationship ultimately ends. And even though the film could possibly have become mired in over-sentimentality, director Marc Webb always keeps things fresh and quirky, switching from Tom’s exhilaration (saying hi to Han Solo and dancing in one of the film’s best sequences) to his utter heartbreak and depression within seconds. One of the film’s most powerful ideas plays out on two halves of the screen, juxtaposing both expectation and reality in one single frame.

Both actors play their parts superbly, Gordon-Levitt in particular shines as the average-Joe who is swept off his feet by a girl and Deschanel is very down to earth and quietly pretty, excellently portraying her character’s difficulties with relationships after her parent’s divorce. When watching the short videos created for the movie’s marketing campaign it is clear that the two actors clearly had a ball on set and that their on-screen chemistry (for lack of a better word) is genuine. They are in fact the very definition of a great screen couple and it can only be hoped that the film can serve as a launch-pad for both their careers.

500 Days of Summer OSTMusic plays a very central part in the film, particularly on indie rock; indeed Tom himself regularly sports T-Shirts of various bands. While there exists an original score by Mychael Danna, the focus here is on songs by the likes of Regina Spektor, The Smiths, Carla Bruni (yes you heard right, France’s first lady!), The Temper Trap and Wolfmother and unsurprisingly it’s these songs that have made the album. Pick of the crop are undoubtedly “Us” by Regina Spektor and “Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap, both very much in keeping with the characters’ slightly offbeat styles and evoking all the right emotions from the listener. As an introduction to the genre the album works very well but for seasoned collectors it is unlikely it will cover much new ground.

With (500) Days of Summer forming part of the Sundance selection for 2009 and the praise it’s received from a slew of critics, it’s impossible to be negative about it. Not that that’s necessary of course as it makes for excellent viewing. For reaching across the borders of the conventional romantic comedy and being just huge fun I award it.




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