Tuesday, August 11, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

It has been far too long since I've sat down to write anything for this blog - I was on the verge of discarding it altogether and then I saw a film that actually got me off my lazy summer butt. I know this probably sounds ridiculous but when I walked out of the theater the first thing I thought was, "I am not doing enough with my life - I should learn how to play the harmonica or something."
My second thought was, "where can I find headphones like that?....."

Well, now I'm actually writing about movies again (as I listen to music on my new headphones and compare harmonica prices on amazon), and it's honestly because of this one sappy, angsty, pseudo-hipster romantic comedy... how is this possible?

In short, '(500) Days of Summer' is a film you can relate to. And by "you" I mean "me" (and all my friends). I could go on and on about this one, but as far as the story goes it's really quite simple - "boy meets girl, boy believes in love, girl does not." A lot of critics have been calling '(500) Days of Summer' a "post-modern love story," and although that sounds appropriate I must admit I have no idea what that means. So, for a slightly lengthier explanation and a taste of the amazing soundtrack I recommend watching the trailer over here.

After having watched the trailer if you're still skeptical I beg you to keep an open mind. You see, Marc Webb has successfully taken a genre of film (romantic comedy) which I usually run away from at full tilt and has created something fresh, and I would go so far as to say honest. Fresh because of how the movie looks at a relationship and honest because of what the movie looks at in a relationship.
A major part of '500 Days' freshness comes from how it is filmed, or more precisely, how it is presented. Instead of offering up the generic romance chronology '500 Days' jumps around in the time-line of this couple, showing us the ups and the downs in a haphazard mess (kind of like a relationship!). Of course there is a method to the madness and the film is able to come together by the end in a way that should satisfy most of the cynics as well as the romantics out there.

In terms of how this film depicts the relationship of Tom and Summer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel respectively) it is a little harder to pin-point exactly what feels so unique. It really comes down to an appreciation of the little "in-between" moments people spend together who's poignancy only (and often tragically) become apparent in retrospect. This story highlights quiet conversations in bed, shopping for furniture at IKEA, and arguing over random pop-culture references. Now that may sound trite on paper/blog, but the believable screenplay and Deschanel/Gordon-Levitt's chemistry is more than enough to make this love boat float.

As I try to figure out how to wrap up this review I'm getting more and more frustrated because I feel like there is so much more and more to say. I'm learning that blogs are supposed to be quick and concise and none of my past posts posses either of these qualities. I could go on and on about the way the brief narration segments bookend the story, or how the opening childhood montage does an excellent job of preparing us with references throughout the movie, or how the repetition of wardrobes creates a sense of familiarity with the characters, or how Marc Webb's experience as a music video director lends a kaleidoscopic nature/multiple photography styles to the film, or how the soundtrack manages to unobtrusively commandeer scenes in a beautiful way reminiscent of Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Magnolia'.... But I should stop here.
Or at least soon.

I didn't write a particularly "feministy" segment in this review not because there aren't points of interest for feminist film theory, but because I'm getting a little exhausted with how I've been incorporating those segments into the different reviews. This film does approach some gender issues - particularly about gender expectations concerning love, but there is more that I could (should?) write about. Maybe I'll write a follow-up when I inevitably download a screener copy... For now all you need to know is that you should go out and see this film as soon as possible - yes it's a little angsty, but aren't we all a little angsty at times? Do yourself a favor and embrace it for a couple hours, you'll be glad you did.