Marc Webb Enjoys 500 Days of Summer
By Fred Topel | Image property of Fox Searchlight Pictures
(500) Days of Summer
(500) Days of Summer tells the story of over a year in the relationship of Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel), out of order. Bouncing back and forth puts their happier and sadder times in context, but director Marc Webb had to put the chronology in order to make sure everything lined up.
Marc Webb on (500) Days of Summer
“That was sort of how I got the job, I think,” Webb said. “I had made a scroll with all the days told in order so we could have kind of like a key of the seasons because there was like a color palette evolution and their hair changes and there's all this sort of design elements that really relied on that, not to mention the actors sort of emotional [state]. We wanted to have it because of the production design and the wardrobe are part of the two sides of the same coin in terms of what you absorb visually, they all needed to have a key and that was part of the key to sort of break it down.”
The order is only one way the film breaks romantic comedy conventions. It does so to say something more about real relationships, but also so that it has a chance at actually being both romantic and comedic.
“Our problem with romantic comedy wasn’t that they’re unfunny necessarily, [it s] that they’re kind of bullsh*t. The producer gave me the script and he’s like, ‘Yeah, it’s kind of a romantic comedy,’ I left it in my backpack because it just doesn’t connect with me. I don’t feel like they arrive at a conclusion that has any resonance. I believe in romance, but I don’t believe that if you wax your back and learn to dance you’re you to get the girl.”
When Webb finally discovered (500) Days of Summer, he saw a chance to offer hope to the disillusioned audiences of Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally…. “Happiness lies within, not in the big blues eyes of the girl in the cubicle down the hall. I think that as human beings we like to absolve ourselves responsibility and say like fate and destiny are going to endow us with a blessed life where you live happily ever after, and that really undermines the truth of the situation which is you have to take responsibility for love. Love requires a certain sophistication and engagement. Tom at the beginning of the movie is vanity masquerading his romance, but what makes it work is I identify with that. I thought, ‘Boy, when I meet a pretty girl, she’s going to change my life and everything is going to work and be magical.’ It’s a very beguiling sentiment, but the truth is that she doesn’t solve those problems. Nobody does, it’s a maintenance that you got to deal with on a sort of day to day basis. Just because love isn’t easy doesn’t make it less beautiful. In a way, it makes it more significant.”
One of the film’s more outrageous devices is a split screen sequences that compares Tom’s expectation with the reality. The whimsical twist required a lot of practical coordination to match up, as the sides diverge, then overlap again, then grow vastly apart.
“We did a lot of anima tics and we sort of cut it before we shot it. There’s a lot of credit that goes out to Joe and Zooey for being able to [handle], okay you have four seconds to be happy, you have four seconds to like shake hands, in two different ways expressing a sort of subtle difference. It was a brutal regimen in terms of timing to make that work while having some sort of natural quality to it. The thing that I’m sort of most proud of is it’s not an exaggerated difference. It’s a gradual subtle difference between two screens that eventually gets, I think more pronounced. I think the other part of that is, on one side of the screen usually it’s still like a tableau and the other side of the screen is like where sort of the important activity is taking place so we sort of tracked where people’s eyes should be and let them sort of sit for a while.”
(500) Days of Summer opens to theaters on July 17th.
For the trailer, stills and more movie info, go to the (500) Days of Summer Movie Page.
Sources: Image property of Fox Searchlight Pictures
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