By Chris Campo
Very Mild Spoilers
Romantic comedies are not rare, as we get so many garbage romantic movies each year. What is rare are good romantic comedies, we get those once a year or so. But every now and again, we get a romantic comedy that just is special, above anything else in the genre. Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally... and (500) Days of Summer. (500) Days of Summer is a rare film that plays against type, deconstructs cliches, plays tricks on the audience and is brutally honest. It's a special film for the genre and for myself, and that is for sure a modern classic that will be remembered as one of the greats.
(500) Days of Summer follows Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a hopeless romantic who, from adolescence, believed he would only be truly happy once he found love. Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is a beautiful woman who believes love should be taken with a grain of salt, and that life always gets in the way. We follow their relationship over the course of 500 days, as told from the perspective of Tom. We bounce through the days, through ups and downs to find out if these two can in fact find love. There's only really one thing you need to know about this story, however... It is a story about love, but it is NOT a love story.
(500) Days of Summer is a masterpiece. This movie plays so many cards and plays them all so well. Every watch I learn something new about these characters and the reason this story is told. The characters are deep and reflect the story being told, in some of the most clever writing I have ever seen. See, this movie is all about expectations. Expectations of love, and love stories. Tom has these expectations planted in his brain of what love should be, just as this movie plants the expectations in our head that this is just another romantic comedy. Tom's expectations give him tunnel vision, he ignores the fact that Summer isn't that interested, Just like we completely ignore the fact that the movie literally tells you how the movie ends and that it is not a love story.
This would not be achieved as seamless as it is without a talent like Marc Webb. He constructs so many meaningful themes and ideas, all while still making the movie as enjoyable as it could possibly be. He makes some incredible stylistic choices, like the famous expectations Vs reality scene, or the full on dance number acting as a celebration of sleeping with Summer. Webb's direction is a true star of this film, because without it, the film may have come across as a good idea squandered by lack of how to show them on screen. Also, props to the editing and choice of nonlinear storytelling, its uncommon we get nonlinear stories in something outside of a hard hitting drama or some Oscar bait. I also happen to rather enjoy the ending scene, which is a little bit more cutesy than the rest of the film, which some people have a problem with, but I get the biggest smile each time I watch the film, so I cant hold it against the film as a whole.
The film is honest, like brutally honest, but it's never dreary or depressing thanks to its absolutely hysterical sense of humor. The humor in this film just hits. This film is jam-packed with scenes and dialogue that just puts a smile on your face. I laugh each and every time Tom see's himself as Han Solo in his reflection right before that already mentioned dance number. The humor in this film is quirky and it just fits like a glove. All the supporting characters are all hysterical. From Matthew Gray Gubler and Geoffrey Arend's best friend characters, who both serve as humorous outcomes of love failing and succeeding, to Chloe Grace Moretz's overlooked role as the wise and mature 9 year old. Kick-ass may have put young Moretz on the map, but she is spectacular here. She's Tom's sense of realism in the story which is all the more hysterical because she is so young.
All the performances are damn perfection. Levitt and Deschanel both give wonderful performances. I think a lot of guys, myself included, can relate to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's hopeless and somewhat selfish portrayal as a man who just wants love. Zooey Dechanel gives what is her best performance as a complex and complicated girl who thinks she knows what's best for her, she shines here. The chemistry between these two is something out of this world; I would love to see them in more projects together. The supporting cast is great as I mentioned, but I appreciate their limited screen time, letting us really invest in the two main leads. But hats off to Clark Gregg, who just may give the best line in the whole film with "Roses are red, violets are blue, fuck you whore."
Aesthetically, this movie is a knockout. The cinematography can bebreathtaking, especially the sequence on the train, with sun soaked closeups of Tom and Summer, I get emotional just thinking about it. This film also has some beautiful photography of architecture, which is a weird compliment to give a film, but it's something that sticks with me. It's not only beautiful in visuals, but also in sound. The soundtrack is timeless, beautiful and compliments the film so very well. Some of my all time favorite songs I discovered from this film. There are also a handful of moments where actions are synced up to music, which I love, and it feels as if the film is scratching an itch you didn't know you had, another small thing that just stuck with me about this film. It's rather nice to be impacted by small things in a film every once in a while.
(500) Days of Summer is a masterpiece. It's an example of when writing, direction, performances and aesthetics come together perfectly to craft a beautiful film with a deep message. It plays against expectations of it's audience and character is such a unique way that it is truly a staple of the genre. It's so good that you, like me, are likely to re-watch many times.