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(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Rating: 6/10

(500) Days of Summer left me with no response, though it’s supposedly very clever. It is, on one hand, original, funny, well-made, and lucky to have attracted two actors who perfectly embody the ill-fated romance about to play out. The problem is that it’s almost TOO quirky, almost too aware of itself, and as relatable as it is in some ways, in others, there’s an odd disconnect.

We’re told from the start, via Narrator, that though this is a story of boy meets girl and such, it is NOT a love story. Sure, greeting card writer Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) wants to be in love and does indeed fall into such with Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel)—but alas, Summer doesn’t believe in love. Not wanting to lose the girl he believes is his soulmate, Tom finds himself in a “friends with benefits” scenario that doesn’t really work for anyone involved.

Whatever ambivalence I may feel towards this film, it can’t be blamed on the two leads. Gordon-Levitt is the epitome of Tom, that guy who believes in true love and thinks that the girl he chooses is his one and only, the guy that attributes spiritual meaning to love songs and is funny and completely non-threatening. As the object of his adoration, Deschanel shows that she does actually possess that inexplicable “it” factor that makes even her most mundane movement ultimately more fascinating than those of the rest of us. First time director Marc Webb does some interesting things here, in particular a scene in which Tom’s expectations and reality of an event are shown in a split screen next to each other, or the early montage of Summer’s ability to charm everyone in the world. There are things that don’t work as well, though, such as the constant switching back and forth in the time line—I get what he was after, and it almost worked, but it becomes distracting and jarring after a while. I think, though, that my biggest disconnect is in the relationship … it’s real, in its mediocrity and blandness, but not exactly entertaining. The core relationship between Tom and Summer is recognizable yet somewhat dull, and the things that keep the film watchable, other than the actors, all add up to a bunch of often-but-not-always clever directorial and style tricks.

In the end, I feel a little like Summer must have felt about Tom. The film is nice, and it has its moments where I could’ve loved it, but there’s always just something missing right below the surface that keeps me from falling head over heels.

It's Got: Great leads, Some innovative quirks, A good soundtrack

It Needs: More heart, More soul, To quit that annoying time flopping thing


An interesting and sometimes very clever not-so-romantic comedy from a promising first-time director, it still falls a little flat somewhere along the way.