500 Days of Summer

Wait Till He Finds Autumn


01 July 2009| No Comments on 500 Days of Summer     by Sean Chavel


Even the melancholy moments are delightful. (500) Days of Summer is a film with five hundred seeming memory jogged replays or a number close to it. Winningly, it is full of those moments that occupy relationships between smart, inquiring and contemplative twenty-something’s. This is what happens when the writing is snappy and the directing is swift. Most of the movie goes right – it is very confident and self-assured and the actors have sass.

The film, with its’ spontaneous detours through dream sequences, a French New Wave impromptu, black & white snapshots, attention-grabbing diagram drawings, a split screen with a fake-and-real scheme, and a buoyantly choreographed musical number that is a throwback to Gene Kelly – is a whimsical romance. The film is breezily photographed and the cutting has a pop rhythm. It moves exuberantly and smartly.

Like an IPad Shuffle, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) replays his 500 up-and-down days with the girl he loves. Tom is a greeting-card writer who gave up on his dreams of being an architect, and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is the new office assistant whom he’s smitten with the moment he lays eyes on her. Word is out that she’s a closed-off snob. The longest he steers his eyes away from her is for three days. On day four, they share the elevator and bond over The Smith’s song “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out.” An after-work outing taps two karaoke performances by first Summer, then Tom. Then Tom’s drunk friend tells him, “Why don’t you just tell her you like her?” An office romance flowers soon after.

This flick has the kind of unpredictable giddiness you would find in a Cameron Crowe film before Cameron Crowe lost his magic. The hook is that the two lead characters are unorthodox opposites. Reversing stereotypes, Tom is a sensitive and romantic one with grandiose ideas about how love completes us. Summer is uninterested in having a boyfriend and enjoys her independence. While they are dating, Summer insists they are just friends. By the time they become a couple they quarrel like “Sid & Nancy.”

The film slides back and forth in time, using flash title cards informing us which day they are in. They are all Tom’s scattered memories, shuffling between day 32 and day 185 and then back again to an earlier time, and so forth. It is like a sunnier version of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

It feels like the last 100 days are redundant. But that’s sick love – you stick around past all reasons of insanity. Not much goes wrong with “Days of Summer” as an entertainment, or as a burning romance. Yet it could have entirely disposed of scenes of Tom receiving advice from his pre-teen sister which are moments that scream of degenerate rom-com sappiness. Another unmerited distraction: Tom also has a gratuitous blow-up on the false magnanimousness of the greeting cards his company composes. Most of the time, the film is a jaunty affair that is more sweet and divine than real life. It would be nice if it had edits, but I would still love to see this movie again sometime.

95 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “Annie Hall” (1977); “New York New York” (1977); “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2003); “Revolutionary Road” (2008).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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