Thursday, August 27, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

“(500) Days of Summer” was the perfect movie for me to watch last night.

I needed a little breather from my life (not that there’s anything explicitly wrong- I just needed a break) and though I wanted to watch “Ponyo,” I was talked into “(500) Days of Summer.” I wanted to watch both, I figured, why not?

I’m so glad I watched this movie.

Hype of any kind makes me leery of movies, and I’ve heard quite a few things about this one that made me cautious. First of all, some critic hailed it as the best romantic comedy since “Love Actually.” I was horrified, because I thought “Love Actually” was actually quite a load of crap and a giant waste of the talent they had acquired. You have Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, and Mr. Bean and what do you do with them? Insipid “romantic” garbage?? WASTE.

ANYWAY. Back to the task at hand.

There are spoilers, spoilers galore! If you haven’t watched and would like to, stop reading!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt really made me love (LOVE!) Tom Hansen, a rather wistful romantic, a firm believer in love conquering all. He played the poor sap with enough conviction to make my flinty little heart melt. Those puppy-dog eyes and that unfurling smile- so perfect for Tom.

Can I just say, though, that I don't believe men like Tom really exist? They don't! Why is it that screenwriters seem to be able to write realistic women but always write the men much more ... more than they really are in real life?? BAH.

Zooey Deschanel felt slightly disengaged from her character, I thought. It worked for Summer, since she doesn’t believe in love, hasn’t ever experienced it, and thinks it’s all a farce. My kind of woman, honestly. She’s upfront, doesn’t mince words, and doesn’t mislead Tom.

Still. That moment when she tells Tom that they are “just friends” after he gets punched in the face coming to her defense? Heartbreaking. At the end of the 500 days, when Tom asks her why, how she happened to be MARRIED when she previously didn’t even believe in having a boyfriend (quotes are from memory, don’t judge me):

Summer: I just … woke up one day, and ... I knew.
Tom: Knew what?
Summer: Knew what I was never sure of with you.

Punch in the gut, much? Ouch. Tom turns his face away from camera, and it's almost painful to watch him trying to hold back his tears.

At the end of the movie, Summer ends up the one believing in fate and karma, and tells Tom that it’s all thanks to him, he instilled in her the belief of romance and love. She says to him, “You weren’t wrong, Tom. You were just wrong about me.” Easy enough for her to say, she’s the one that’s married while Tom is broken-hearted and unemployed.

As you can tell, I was firmly on Tom’s side the entire way through the movie. I guess that’s appropriate, since the story was really told through his perspective, but I wish that Summer’s thoughts and actions had been explained a bit better. I wanted to like her- I love Zooey Deschanel!- but I just couldn’t get my tepid feelings towards her any warmer than “meh.”

Supporting characters were just basic outlines, rough sketches of people that weren’t ever fully fleshed out- silly boss, stupid co-workers, dumb friends with even dumber advice- with the exception of Tom’s little sister, Rachel (played by Chloe Moretz), who is her brother’s guru. She was great, the straight-talking advice-giver that, by turns and with much exasperation and love, comforted, cheered up, and whipped her brother.

I thought the musical number (all movies should have musical numbers!) was funny and appropriate- Tom was walking on clouds, waltzing through life, and it was just adorable. Animated bird? Why not? UCLA marching band? Sure!

The animated title cards indicating what day in the relationship we’re about to see were a bit twee, maybe a bit much, but they worked. The animations that indicated weather, foreshadowing the mood of the following scene(s) were slightly too leading- the clouds and gray day prepared me in advance for a fight, the sunlight and tweeting birds told me that I was going to see cuteness and giggles. Still, for the overall mood of the film, everything worked.

(Aside: At some point, I'm going to have to write about the depiction of L.A. in this movie. It's crazy.)

After sleeping on it, I woke up thinking that with a little more depth and a ton more delving into Tom’s psyche, this movie could have been the male version of “Amelie.”

Both movies have foregone conclusions- we know that Amelie will end up with Nino, we know that Tom will not end up with Summer. The fact that knowing doesn’t take away from the viewing is what made both stories so memorable to me, part of why I love them both.

“(500) Days of Summer” doesn’t touch “Amelie,” but it’s still very good, a movie that I will definitely be buying on DVD.

And have I mentioned how darling Joseph Gordon-Levitt is??


william August 27, 2009 at 10:27 PM  

he is SO darling. i think/hope he's gay. he's been in so many gay themed things (really? do i have to list them?).

loved the movie. but there were all these like 18 year olds in the theatre and i was like, you don't understand this movie! it's such a 20-something type movie.

agree with you on love actually. i HATE IT.

and amelie is one of a kind. amazing.

love zooey deschanel. i liked summer from a distance. but it makes sense that i don't understand her completely. she probably guards her heart very actively.

had no idea it was LA until mid-way through the film.

and "bald eagle" made me laugh for five minutes straight.

jeanny August 28, 2009 at 10:49 AM  

Hush your mouth, don't say such things about Joseph!

I will never understand why people so loved "Love Actually," it's just plain stupid. Boo.

The movie seemed to go out of its way to re-invent L.A., which is understandable ... but weird!

And YES, "bald eagle"!! Ahahahahahahahahahahaaaaa!!

Sogamgong August 29, 2009 at 9:47 PM  

Can I know her(actor) name? I know her but, I don't know her name.
(Sorry, I can understand your sentence a little, because I'm not native english. Can you let me know her name?)

jeanny August 29, 2009 at 9:50 PM  

Of course- her name is Zooey Deschanel.