(500) Days of Summer

In a Popcorn Bucket first, we have a new reviewer to watch and review all the films I can’t be arsed to. It’s like having my own personal film errand boy… So, a big welcome to Rob (RB) who will take it from here.


I have been looking forward to this film ever since I saw a trailer for it in April, so was pretty pleased when I got to see it on the week of release. The reason that this is so late is because I have had a dissertation to write and jobs to apply for, and I am hoping that this is sufficient enough of a preamble to stick to the customs of the ‘Bucket’.

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

“This is a story of boy meets girl. But you should know up front, this is not a love story.”

(500) Days of Summer, as states at the beginning of the film itself, is not the traditional type of ‘Bridget Weddings Actually and a Notting Hill Funeral ‘, with the Hurried Race To Get The Girl At The Climax Of The Film. Rather, it is a story about love; the excitement and confusion of the first days of a new relationship, and the torment that come with it. In its 95 minutes, the film manages to cover more emotions than many other ‘rom-coms’, and far more realistic. They meet at work, rather than by some quirky ‘accident’, which is something that most can relate to. In fact the film is very clever at being able to relate to the audience, and it is refreshing to see a ‘story of boy meets girl’ from the point of view of a guy. Admittedly there are several other romantic comedies from a guy’s perspective, such as Made of Honour, which was good until the last part of the film. Most of the other such films feature Hugh Grant, and who can relate to him?

“Darling. I don’t know how to tell you this, but there’s a Chinese family in our bathroom”

The film centres on Tom Hanson (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and his affections for Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). It begins with him methodically smashing plates (which does look rather fun) and shifts non-chronologically around different episodes of their relationship, ensuring that the quirky moments of the film sit neatly alongside the sadder ones. There is a huge dance number in the middle, and yet this does not seem at all out of place, or unrealistic (even the animated bird!). Equally, it is highly unlikely that people who watch this film will be able to go to IKEA in the same way again. A few jokes are laugh-out-loud funny, but the film isn’t played for big laughs, and is funnier for it. Music is central to the film, they bond over The Smiths in a lift, and then at karaoke bar. The soundtrack is brilliant, and always fits the scene well. In this way, it is reminiscent of ‘High Fidelity’, and that is no bad thing.

“Literally?” “Well, no, not literally. That’s disgusting.”

There are a few grumbles though, the final joke you can see coming a mile off, and whilst this doesn’t at all spoil the film, it is the only joke that isn’t as subtle as the rest of the humour. Equally Tom’s friends could have received a bit more attention, and given the fact that the film is not a rom-com, I could have done without the ‘wise younger sibling’ cliche (despite the fact that the character is very well acted by Chloë Moretz), it just doesn’t sit with the rest of the film.

“People don’t realize this, but loneliness is underrated”

These are minor gripes though, and I really loved the film. The shifting chronology works well with the narrative, and I like the rollercoaster of emotions that the film manages to take the viewer through. The film is well shot, and has very obvious influences, such as Amelie, although as with the dance scene, it never seems out of place. The two leads play the characters brilliantly, and they are both very likable (Tom more so, but then it is from his point of view). This is one of my favourite films that I have seen this year, and definitely a welcome change to the genre of romantic film.


P.S. A quick aside. There is a reference in the film to ‘Sid and Nancy’. Levitt and Deschanel have then played out these characters as part of Microsoft Zune’s “Cinemash” series, which is on YouTube, and very funny! I do hope that this will be included on the DVD release.

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