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500 Days of Summer the Best Film of the Year

Published July 16, 2009 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Fox Searchlight Pictures
(500) Days of Summer Poster (500) Days of Summer
Oh, if only I could have seen (500) Days of Summer when I was a high school kid. Then I would have known it was all going to be okay. This is the best film of the year, an inspiration for broken hearts everywhere.

Review: (500) Days of Summer

Tom (Joseph Gordon Levitt) spend 500 days between meeting Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and getting over his breakup with her. The film jumps back and forth between days to contrast his feelings and actions at different points in their relationship. So you see, it’s not even ironic about an extended season. Her name is Summer. That’s deep, man. Really, it is. I love it.

It’s whimsical enough to create the unreality of a romance film, and the gimmicks are awesome, like good Woody Allen. Using black and white footage, a narrator, addressing the camera, a foreign art film sequence is totally my sensibility too. Calling out the “coincidental” inspiration is genius.

They even play with their own device of the day counter. This is smart whimsy, not smug like most romantic comedies. Not that this is the first movie with a random dance number, but it fits so well with the other devices, the song choice and the moves make it perfect. It even has an artist poop joke.

Even the back and forth is whimsical. Jumping from happy to bitter and back to happy says a lot about the human emotional cycle in a relatable way. They show the exact same conversation with different tonalities in different situations. So true.

The split screen is just profound. It’s what you expect in the way Swingers did the answering machine scene. It plays out to its painful conclusion, in an awesome fete of technical coordination and storytelling excellence.

The only device that isn’t used consistently is the little girl giving Tom romantic advice. While I appreciate the idea of an uncorrupted young support system wise enough to show him the way, I didn’t really want to see more “awwwww” in this film. She’s in it just enough.

At its heart, even without the clever gimmicks, 500 Days of Summer is about the real human phenomenon of having intense love and need, and trying to deconstruct it all with your friends. They actually talk about relationships like I do, not like When Harry Met Sally does or even like He’s Just Not That Into You, which I liked. Even He’s Just Not That Into You, which I liked, pandered to the needs of its audience. At least it got some good advice in there. 500 Days of Summer never has to sell out.

It’s true about how seemingly crazy random incidents spark a fight that ruins everything. Even their dates feel more like things real people do, like playing in Ikea. They’re being whimsical in a real setting, not some contrived Hollywood date where people can fall down or get hit in the nuts.

500 Days of Summer is a profound example of channeling your feelings into a creative work. That’s what Tom does in the film and it’s surely what the filmmakers have done. This may be the only date movie that’s okay to watch after a breakup, because it will help you get through the heartache. I think somewhere in this I referred to it as the best romantic movie since Swingers, so there you go.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Fox Searchlight Pictures

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