Review: 500 Days of Summer

You’ve seen it all before: boy meets girl, falls in love, have a huge fight, break-up, then get back together and live happily ever after. It’s the formulaic magic behind every romantic comedy being shown nowadays. The twist here, though, is that while 500 Days of Summer is a love story, it does not end happily. Or, it doesn’t have a conventional happy ending.

The film,told from the point of view of the Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), is a narrative that goes back and forth as Tom remembers his 500 days with Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). It follows a non-linear format and flashcards are shown before each sequence to mark which day it was in the love story.

Tom and Summer meet at a greeting card company where Tom works as a writer and Summer is the boss’ new assistant. At first, Tom and his friends assume that Summer, with her girl next door good looks is a heartbreaker. However, as the days pass, Tom finds himself thinking often of what Summer is really like. He finally gets his chance while riding in their office elevator, when they both discover their mutual love for The Smiths after Summer overheard Tom’s ipod playing.

From there, the two become inseparable – going on dates, parties, hanging out at home, and finally being intimate. All this with Summer constantly warning Tom that she’s not looking for a relationship.

The two of them spent many months together until their first big fight – a guy offers to buy Summer a drink while the two of them are hanging out at a bar, and Tom, being the protective boyfriend, felt compelled to hit the guy after persistently pushing Summer.

It was never the same after that until they eventually break-up and Summer quits her job. Tom gets all depressed, then hopeful when Summer, thinking they could be friends again, invites him to a party at her house, only to spiral downwards after realizing the party was Summer’s engagement party.
It took quite a while before Tom decides to turn his life around – he quit his job, started brushing up on his Architecture knowledge. One good advice he got unexpectedly came from his little sister, who told him “Tom, I know you think she was the one, but I don’t. Next time you look back, I think you should look again”; How often that this rings true in real life, when there are telltale signs that things aren’t working as well as we would like to think, we just aren’t willing to accept it and would rather be oblivious.
It was also during this period that he finally got the closure he needed. It also had one of the most memorable quotes from the movie:
As he discusses aspects of their relationship and comments that Summer never wanted to be someone’s girlfriend but she’s now someone’s wife, she replies: I just woke up one morning and I knew what I was never sure of with you.
Again, this sounds all too familiar. I remember many a time when friends would ask me how I knew Ipe was the one and I would give them the same answer: I just woke up one day and realized I want to spend my life with him. Strange but that’s how it goes with love – you are never sure of it until you are sure. You just know.
Summer’s reply wasn’t slap in your face but it was a nonrebuttable proof that Summer was never into him. And it freed Tom enough for him to risk love again when he meets – Autumn.
The movie wasn’t a tearduct exercise but it was neatly done and the storytelling offers a fresh take on an otherwise been there done that plot. And while it shifts back and forth in time, it doesn’t skip a beat and lose you in the process. And Zooey was perfect – vintage beauty with just the right mix of innocence and sophistication and goofiness, and Joseph was nearly perfect as well as the puppy-eyed boyfriend.
The story doesn’t sugarcoat either – it’s a very realistic portrayal of relationship expectations.I particularly enjoyed the shot of Tom going up to Summer’s apartment and the screen shows two different scenes – one of Tom’s “expectations” of getting back with Summer and the other “reality,” with him finding out that the party was for Summer’s engagement.
Ipe and I both enjoyed the movie. It wasn’t chick flick; it had enough smarts in it to actually make you think about relationships without being campy or cliche. We had varying opinions though on Summer. He thinks she was a mean girl who broke Tom’s heart. True, Tom was really broken after the split but Summer never intended it to happen as she had been constantly reminding Tom that they weren’t “together” together. Tom was probably hoping that with all the time they spent together, Summer was bound to change her beliefs and fall for him too.
In any case, the movie still had a happy ending. It was a story of boy meets girl, except that they lived happily ever after with somebody else.

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