Wednesday, April 07, 2010

(500) Days of Summer

Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

Especially you, Jenny Beckman.

Bitch.

Damn.

(500) Days of Summer is an outstanding movie.  In fact, it is probably the best romance movie I can recall having seen.*   Novaseeker wrote a solid review a while ago, but even he didn’t capture the utterly transcendent level of psychic pain the movie communicates.  As the narrator explains over the opening credits,

There were two things that Summer liked about herself.  The first was her long, brown hair.

The second was how she could cut it off.

And feel nothing.

. . . . .

This is the story of Boy Meets Girl.  But you should know up front that it is NOT a love story.

The movie keeps a light-hearted tone, but its non-linear storytelling means that it never lets you forget the heartbreak that Tom Hansen, the protagonist, is in for.  The buildup of his and Summer’s relationship is therefore all the more poignant, because we even here have the suffering before us.

The movie features an excellent soundtrack. Also noteworthy is the set design: the story is set in the present day, but with a combination of lighting, decor, and costume the viewer is somehow transported to an earlier, undefined era;  it could be the twenties, it could be the seventies, but it doesn’t feel like 2009. The acting is solid throughout, especially from Zooey Deschanel’s Summer, in whose deep blue eyes we can see the empty void where a soul should be.

6 comments:

Novaseeker said...

It was a great non-love-story -- kind of a romance from the guy's point of view.

The main disappointment was the Hollywoodization at the end of the film -- where it's suggested that "Autumn" will be very different and so on, and that the ideas that the rest of the movie has been peddling may be wrong after all. That detracts from the film, and felt like a cheap nod at the need in Hollywood to avoid complete cynicism in male/female relationships. But the movie itself was deliciously well-done. It portrayed a perspective -- that of the jilted male in the face of a flighty female -- that isn't often told in films.

The script was also careful enough for us not to be able to make completely one-sided judgments about Summer's behavior. She never actually *does* tell him anything specifically about her feelings, and from the outset she seems to make it clear she sees him as a fling. Yet as things develop, there is quite a bit of non-verbal communication from her that undercuts that (from the male perspective at least), even though she doesn't vocalize that. In the end, it seems that Summer was simply uncomfortable that she was developing actual feelings for the protagonist, because he wasn't the kind of guy that she wanted to develop those kinds of feelings for -- not alpha enough, in a way. So she ran.

Another interesting thing is how men and women viewers can come away from the film with very different perspectives. Many women I have spoken to about the film emphasize that Summer never vocalized her feelings, and it was inappropriate for the protagonist to infer them from her actions. Guys, on the other hand, tend to relate strongly to one degree or another with the protagonist. I certainly had a similar relationship when I was in college to a "Summer" like woman which played itself out in a similar vein. I thought that this was just an oddity of my life, but seeing the film made me question that, and wonder just how many guys go through a relationship like the one depicted in the film.

ironrailsironweights said...

It sounds like a very depressing movie, but just how depressing would depend on the way the character of Tom is portrayed. If he's the sort of man who should be able to do okay with women, then it might not be too tragic, as he'd be able to find another woman to replace Summer. On the other hand, if he's portrayed as a low Beta or an introvert or otherwise with a poor dating market value, the story would be far more depressing. Viewers would be left wondering whether Summer would have been his only chance in life at marriage and a family.

Peter

samsonsjawbone said...

Many women I have spoken to about the film emphasize that Summer never vocalized her feelings, and it was inappropriate for the protagonist to infer them from her actions.

I've learned a great deal about female nature, but sometimes a small revelation - like this - can still make my blood run cold.

Anyone know how the film did at the box office?

ironrailsironweights said...

According to the IMDB it took in about $33 million in its domestic theatrical run. Not a whole lot compared to movies these days, but of course production and marketing costs have to be taken into account before one can determine its success or failure. Plus, there also will be DVD sales, and something tells me it's the sort of movie that will do well on DVD.

Peter

Novaseeker said...

Peter --

At the end of the film, Tom has an encounter with "Autumn", and it's suggested that Summer was not his last chance at happiness. That struck me as a bit too convenient and Hollywood, which I think detracted from the film, but I can understand that if something like that were not included, the film would be even darker.

Dan Kurt said...

Just rented the Movie 500 days of Summer.

Boy did that flick bring back the memories.

During the early Fall 1963 met an Art student and really hit it off. I was 20 and fell head over heels dating her until we broke up after six months. I was really hurt by the episode. She was a tall redhead named Ginger and was at least a 9 out of 10. During May 1964 at a mixer at a Women's college I met a girl, bright, witty and self assured, a 6 out of 10, but projected a higher score. Her name was Sue.

I was not looking for a steady being burned so recently. We started dating and she made it clear that there was someone else, just graduated from Princeton, a draftee who was going to serve two years in the Army. It was fine with me and we dated more and more for the next two years. I dated some other girls during that time and even had the unfortunate experience of one of the girls getting the telephone number of Sue from one of my fraternity brothers. Some of them warned me that Sue was poison. What a nightmare that dust up was between the two girls and me. None-the-less, I made up with Sue and saw more and more of her actually falling for her and believing she had fallen for me.

That did not come to pass. Sue returned to her College for her Senior Year. I was in Graduate School and expected to see her with love in my heart and more but it was not to be: suddenly she pulled the rug out from under me. Abruptly I was in Nowheresville with Sue. Her Princeton Tiger had returned and I was dumped. She told me that she had wasted two years with me. I was a place holder. Again I was crushed. I pined for a month or so and then started dating, falling in "love" with two new girls in succession an 8 and a 10 and eventually met my wife a 9+ ( another redhead with freckles ) who has been married to me for 42 years.

Sue was a Summer. Sue eventually went to Stanford for a graduate degree, married, had one son but divorced early and had not remarried as of about 5 years ago when some one ( anonymous ) sent me a newspaper clipping of a story an affair honoring her parents where her status was described. Sue had reassumed her maiden name.

Boy was I lucky back then to be dumped. I should have know she was a flake as she gave me a book to read titled: I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green. I never bothered to read it at the time but years later I looked at it before discarding it ( The book was inscribed by Sue to me. And I did not want my new bride to see it. ) This book "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" is a semi-autobiographical account of a teenage girl's three-year battle with schizophrenia. Sue was trying to tell me something.

The move probably was based on a true experience.

Dan Kurt