Published Jul 16, 2009The trouble with romantic comedies is that they're all so full of shit. More often than not, they're brimming with unhealthy escapism featuring nauseating yet profitable pairings like Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey, and one of three premises - love and hate; engaged to be married; or unlucky in love - that all end in a giggly embrace.
(500) Days of Summer isn't one of those films. Instead, it uses a much needed dose of hipster cool, delightful whimsy and, wait for it, plausibility to expose Hollywood's love of empty, cliché-driven vehicles.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Tom, a former architect student who settles for a career in greeting card writing. When his boss hires a new P.A. named Summer (Zooey Deschanel), Tom falls quickly, madly and deeply in love, a realization triggered when she admits that she too is a fan of the Smiths. We see the relationship blossom, thrive, break down, dissolve and rekindle, but out of order, as the story jumps back and forth like a flipbook, underlining significant moments during their 500 days.
This method of storytelling allows Webb to use his imagination, most effectively in a gut-wrenching split screen that weighs Tom's hopes against reality, an adorable window-shopping trip to Ikea and a blissful post-coital dance sequence to Hall & Oates' "You Make My Dreams."
Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt already established their chemistry in 2001's intense drama Manic but here they become the perfect onscreen pair, going through the rollercoaster ride of emotions that every couple experiences without insulting the audience's intelligence. Tom's anxiousness over the undefined parameters of their relationship is heightened by Summer's amiable nonchalance, which gives the film a capricious charm.
(500) Days of Summer ranks up there with rom-com mainstays like Say Anything and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's an original piece of work that presents love as the compassionate, frustrating and hilarious subject it is. (Searchlight)