Friday, July 17, 2009

"It's official. I'm in love with Summer."

Alright, this review is really thrown together, so don't hate me too much for it not being a masterclass in writing. I have a headache right now, so it's hard to write.

(500) Days of Summer is a little movie I heard about sometimes last year, and I read that Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt were both involved, which automatically caught my interest. Then, I read the plot summary, which was something like "Boy falls in love with a girl who doesn't believe in love," and I thought to myself, "This sounds like the most cliche thing ever." Never the less, because of the two stars, I continued to follow the project, and when I saw the trailer.. my anticipation was instantly boosted. So, my anticipation going into the film was high (obviously, I mean I drove an hour and 5 minutes to go to the only theatre even close to me to go see it).

I'm not going to go into plot, which, you will learn when you read my reviews, cause I find it to be a pointless exercise of the fingers to take up half of a review retelling the story. What I will say is that, the story is very simple. Our protagonist is Tom, a 20-something who works at a greeting card company who is kind of a hopeless romantic, and he meets Summer, who just moved from Michigan and is now an assistant at the greeting card company Tom works at. They meet, and instantly form a relationship. The movie jumps back and forth from the bad to the good in their times together.

Marc Webb directs his first recognizable project, and does wonders with the film. It's really simple what he does, but it works so effectivly with the screenplay. Some of his choices are so unique, and could've turned almost self-indulgent, but they end up making the film original. Some of the choices that made me fall in love with the film. To have Tom do a little dance numbers after the first time him and Summer have intercourse, just made me smile from ear to ear. And one of my favorite points in the film is the decision to do a split screen from expectations and reality when Tom goes to Summer's roof-top party. Whenever there's a montage, it's done marvelously.For the most part, the decisions on the Webb's part are simple, with some splashes of originallity that make the film what it is.

As for the screenplay, it's pretty much what I expected going in. It's never complicated, you are never confused, and it's really easy listening. The dialogue is wonderful, the characterization of the two main people is absolutely brilliant (especially Tom), to the point where you get so emotionally invested in both of them that you really never want the 500 days to end. The creativity to flip flop back and forth from one point in the story, to another, really gave us a nice balance of the two halves of the film. It could've just been told in order from day one to day five-hundred but it wouldn't have been. The choice of narration could've been disasterous, because the story is so simple that it pretty much spoon feeds the audience (and no one likes to be spoon fed), but the voice is easy to listen to, and it's never over bearing.. only used sparingly. The story is so simple and trying to describe the plot, you would just say to yourself. "Okay.. whats so special about this?" It's one of those scripts you need to see for yourself to understand what makes it so special. The movie, I found, is very much comparable to my favorite film of all time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.. expect less complicated, and it ends differently. Oh, not to mention, the ending was perfect, and went as far away from cliche as it could.. and it worked amazingly.

There's really only two performances worth talking about. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Tom. I could do into depth about what makes his performance so special, but I'm not going to.. because, much like the script.. it's something you really need to see. People a;ways throw around the word natural, but I try to use it as little as possible because it's so hard to achieve a truly natural performance. Now, Joseph Gordon Levitt is just so natural, it's unbelivable. He's totally convincing in every line he says, is reserved for part of the movie, but lets it out when he needs to. He is just.. real. His performance is very comparable to Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine. His characterization of Tom in his physical and vocal ways are just pitch-perfect. Couldn't have been any better. Zooey Deschanel plays Summer, and does it very convincingly. Her performance is sweet, charming, natural, and great. She isn't as good as Levitt, but she plays her part very well. Oh, and can I mention how absolutely gorgeous she is? My god. There are just some shots of her smile that made my eyes turn into hearts. But, yeah.. she's good. She goes through a lot of emotion in the film (much like Levitt, though probably to a lesser extent), and she does it all convincingly. Their acting chemistry was off the charts, and because they were both so natural, they just meshed perfectly.. when they're romantic, you believe it. When they're fighting, you believe it. The supporting players are all pretty good, especially Geoffrey Arend. Though, Matthew Gray Gubler got on my nerves tremendously whenever he was on the screen.. luckily he wasn't on screen very often.

Tech-wise, the movie is what it is. You don't expect too much from a little Fox Searchlight film, and you don't get much worth mentioning.. it's all about the script, direction, and acting. Huge props to the editing team though, cause the scene transitions were incredibly smooth and the movie flew by. The cinematography is pretty simple. Some really nice shots, but not really outstanding. The soundtrack, however, is perfectly used and perfectly place. Every song is fantastic, and used in the right spot. Loved, loved, loved it. Everything else is what it is.. nothing really else needs to be mentioned.

Right at the begining of the film, the narrator tells you that "this is not a love story," and he's absolutely right. The movie is about life, and the people we meet, and the fate that life brings. The romance between Tom and Summer is unquestionably a wonderful thing to watch, but when everything unfolds, you totally understand why, because the script makes it so easy to relate. You're not getting a ground breaking film, nor a indie comedy, ala Juno, but more along the lines of Eternal Sunshine of the spotless mind, with some drops of great humor, but a story of life. If you like that type of film, (500) Days will not disappoint you. This is one of those movies that will grow on you like moss, and the more I think about it, the better it gets.