(500) Days of Summer Review: A Delightfully Genuine Story about the Perception of Love

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Romantic comedies usually seem as though they are produced on a factory line, characters chosen from a cliché selection of stereotypes and stories that are quirky yet baffling in their attempts at exposing the idealistic nature of love while trying to remain realistic in presentation. Hardly are there films in that genre that boldly try to embrace an actual realism in order to portray, effectively, what most if not all of us experience with love: disappointment and suffering. What sets Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer apart from the rest of the romantic comedy lot is that it has been delicately put together from start to finish, mixing various film styles with a devout sensitivity to remain believable, and has a cast that ignites the screen with genuine emotions that allows the film to reflect on the complexities of relationships and what true love might be. Taking some familiar scenarios we all know and integrating a remarkably unique presentation of those elements, Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer breaks off from any average presentation of the romantic comedy genre, making it a delightful and authentic love story that is worth experiencing the shifts of emotion which in the end will leave you smiling.

Our protagonist Tom, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s most multi-layered performance increasing his repertoire for being known as an impressive actor, has just been dumped by his girlfriend Summer, played by the beautiful and always unique Zooey Deschanel, and continually looks back on various situations throughout their time together to try and figure out what went wrong. At times Tom’s idealistic view on love and relationships collide with Summer’s stubbornness to being independent, showing us that the common roles of male and female stereotypes has been switched, Tom dedicated and clingy, while Summer wants to remain her own person. While this has been a common character depiction in the post-modern love story era, evident in films such as Japanese Story or Revolutionary Road, the film doesn’t make this a defining quality of its characters. Rather the film allows these perceptions to be broken down into a detailed complexity, revealing those hidden aspects of the scripts multi-dimensional characters. Either with extremely real scenarios, such as Summer revealing intimate details of her personal life, or surreal and elaborate imaginary scenarios with Tom’s perception depicting a musical segment that reflects his mood, Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber’s script makes the story lively, distinctive, and genuine.

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This film wouldn’t have been successful if every element didn’t come together just right, and Marc Webb’s direction made that remarkable task possible. Each segment of the script has some potent and realistic emotions, and Marc Webb guides his actors through these diverse scenes that eventually piece together the puzzle that reflects Tom and Summer’s relationship. Balancing realism, including palpable intimacy and honest emotional delivery, with surrealism, subjective experience and divergence mostly from the protagonist Tom, Marc Webb gives these varying styles their own unique treatment and allows the film to flow despite its emotional ups and downs. One of the best segments is a dual editing presentation of what Tom expects to happen when trying to rekindle his relationship with Summer, while showing what actually happens to him, giving an extremely well choreographed depiction of something we all go through, our expectations never seemingly parallel our reality. While the story does deal with some realistic tones of the trouble about relationships the film rarely distances itself from some sort of idealistic interpretation of love in the form of fate and destiny, it just distracts you with a story that didn’t end up being fate. This could be the film’s only fault, trying to dwell away from a love story while still retaining the fate over coincidence qualities that still define the romantic comedy genre. This isn’t a drastic setback but only an indication that while still trying to do something different, filmmakers still try to keep their stories from alienating the vast majority of moviegoers by having happy endings rather than real endings, which would be a true post-modern love story endeavor.

Another aspect of the film that needed the right elements to make it work was the casting and ultimately acting presentation of the film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as of late has proven to be a great actor able to do various types of projects, either as a determined high school detective in Brick to the innocent and hilarious adventures of teenage alien boy in the renowned series 3rd Rock from the Sun. In (500) Days of Summer, however, Levitt is at his best venturing into varying degrees of emotion and presenting them extremely well, either with depression and happiness or also resentment and emptiness. Along with him is Zooey Deschanel who always seems to be picked to play the independent girl who is quirky and interesting but is always good at playing just that. The film isn’t much of a challenge for her, since she has ventured through these emotions before, but her unique presence does certainly give a credible reason for Tom’s dedication, obsession, and admiration. Without the chemistry that these two bring to the clever story the film wouldn’t have been the success it ultimately turns out to be.

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Instead of resorting to the forced quirkiness of relationship comedies such as Garden State or Juno, Marc Webb allows his film to stand out for its truly independent presentation that begins with the creation of a whole hearted and complex story. Through Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber’s script and the delicate and genuine acting from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, Marc Webb brings these unique aspects together to make a film that results in a truly heart warming tale of the possibility of love, rather than forcing quirkiness and unbelievable character traits down your throat. The characters on the screen are incredibly real and their story, with its ability to show true relationship ups and downs, is infinitely more relatable than any of the force-fed typical romantic comedies that are churned out on a year to year basis. (500) Days of Summer is a film that actually has something to say and shows it in an enjoyable and relatable presentation.

Grade: A-

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Comments
One Response to “(500) Days of Summer Review: A Delightfully Genuine Story about the Perception of Love”
  1. arena23 says:

    Great review! Brilliant vocabulary and tone 🙂
    Check out mine! http://moviereviewsdirect.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/500-days-of-summer/
    All the best x

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