Thursday, August 6, 2009

500 Days of Summer - Mini-review

500 Days of Summer got lots of buzz from its Sundance premiere, and for good reason. This is a delightful film, and the best film I have seen this entire summer. Yes, it's really that good, and I'll tell you upfront that I give this film 4 stars. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Right from the beginning, you get the idea that this is not ordinary film. We have a text disclaimer saying that no character is based on anyone living or dead. Flash to new screen "Except you Jenny Beckman." Flash again. "Bitch".

The film structure is unique. We start the film knowing that it is about a relationship that has broken up. It's 500 days of Summer, because Summer is the girl -- that's the girl, played by Zooey Deschanel. We bounce back and forth from the end, somewhere around day 480, to day 1, with a helpful counter to tell us where we are bouncing to next, as Tom remembers and examines his romance with Summer.

This is the tag line for the film:

Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn't.

This is not a love story. This is a story about love.
Summer is upfront with Tom that she is just looking for fun, and not love. She doesn't believe in love, and is surprised that Tom does. "It's love, it's not Santa Claus," he replies.

The film uses animation and a fantastic soundtrack to show Tom's love for Summer, including a Hall and Oates song complete with Tom dancing in a crowded park with a bluebird like something from Disney's Enchanted. There are many sly movie references in this movie like an exact frame from The Graduate as Tom sees Summer naked on the bed just like Dustin Hoffman sees Mrs. Robinson.

Marc Webb has done a fantastic job with this film. You can tell he's had a history of directing music videos, and it's just wonderfully used in many moments. This is a movie that you're going to hear about at Oscar time. I think the writing is exceptional. We've seen romances so many times that are formula, and yes, I like those, too, but this was something new, and that's really hard when you're telling a love story.

I have never loved Zooey Deschanel like I did in this movie. She is luminous and the camera worships her showing her through the lens of Tom's adoration. But we don't truly get to know her, in the same way that Tom thinks he knows her, but doesn't really. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a revelation to me. He's all grown up from his days as a child actor on TV, and I wasn't thinking about that at all -- for the first time. I hope he has a wonderful career, and will look forward to his future work. Interestingly, he is in this week's G. I. Joe as one of the villains, and I almost want to see it just to see that! (Plus Dr. Who's Christopher Eccleston.)

Special mention also goes to the little girl that plays Tom's younger sister. She has a couple of lines that had me literally bent over with laughter. I won't spoil the funniest one, but she sums it all up with this line that a girl who likes The Smiths isn't necessarily the one:
Just because she's likes the same bizzaro crap you do doesn't mean she's your soul mate.
With the release of this music video with music from the film, there was this interesting bit:
Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt say they hope to team up repeatedly and have aspirations of being a regular screen couple, like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers or Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn.

They’re not a real couple, but they’re good at faking it.

“I think it’s great to have continuous collaborators,” Deschanel says. “It’s a shortcut that makes it so much more fun. The job is much easier when you can go to set and be like, ‘Ah, Joe!’”
Count me in as one who would love to see these two work again. They were just magic in this great film. Go and see it! 4 big stars. And don't miss the Cinemash Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel did from Sid & Nancy as a spin off from a line in the trailer below.

No comments:

Post a Comment