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This Week In Netflix: “500 Days of Summer”(2009) February 13, 2011

Posted by Skippy in Movies.
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Verdict: J’adore.

Finally! A romantic comedy that isn’t so heavily laden by typical Hollywood cliches that I want to stab kittens. As one of the taglines say, this is not a “love story,” but it is a story about love. About finding it, thinking that you’ve found it, losing it, hating what you lost, and moving on. Directed by Marc Webb and written by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, this “sleeper hit” is a virtually pitch-perfect film.

Tom (Joseph Gordon-Leavitt) is an employee at a greeting card company in L.A. It is at his job where he meets Summer (Zooey Deschanel). He is smitten, but Summer tells him that she isn’t looking for a serious or committed relationship. What’s compelling about this movie is that Tom sees what he wants to see—especially after he and Summer start dating. Isn’t that the way life is? We only see what we want to see, even if the person in question is telling us everything we need to know.

Anyway, the movie follows the five hundred days from the first time Tom and Summer meet, until their last meeting. We see Tom’s euphoria, confusion, heartbreak, anger, and acceptance. I think what makes this movie work is the nonlinear narrative at work. Unlike traditional rom-coms, this movie jumps around, occasionally presenting parallel days. One particularly humorous sequence is when the things that Tom initially loved about Summer turn to things he absolutely hated about her. Again, such are the highs and lows of love. The storytelling in this movie is quite superb—I do have to say that I wound up really hating Summer. Seriously; post break-up, she invites him to a party…which turns out to be her engagement party. This, of course, sends Tom into a downward spiral. Another thing I’d say that I didn’t like about this movie was Tom’s little sister; I thought it was too “cute” to have a world-weary middle-schooler telling an adult Tom about life. I could have done without that..

That said, Joseph Gordon-Leavitt continues to be an acting revelation. Between this and “Inception,” I’m dangerously close to becoming a fanboy and seeing anything he’s in just because he’s in it. I haven’t quite decided how I feel about Zooey Deschanel; actually, I spent the whole movie thinking that she’d be a perfect Lois Lane, because she really skirts the line between being adorable and being abominably unbearable. I can see why and how Gordon-Leavitt’s Tom would fall for Deschanel’s Summer.

Plus, how can you hate a movie that has this:

Fig. 1: If you haven’t had a day like this, then you’re just not human. Or even Cylon.

All in all, I love this movie. J’adore.

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