500 Days of Summer

 

These 500 days span, in haphazard order, boy-thinks-he-meets-girl to boy-doesn’t- get-girl. This last literally as well as metaphorically. To Tom Hansen (acted superlatively by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) as to most folks, words like “love,” “boyfriend-girlfriend,” “couple,” define easily graspable concepts. Unfortunately, Tom–who studied to be an architect but instead spends his days in a cubicle writing nonsensical rhymes at a greeting-card company–doesn’t understand that not everyone shares this view.
He’s oblivious to terms such as “like,” “just friends,” “no strings attached.” From day 1, when a new assistant starts working at the same company, Tom, totally smitten, is intense and committed whereas Summer (an adorable Zooey Deschanel) is independent, a butterfly testing life as well as tasting it, unable to take a serious interest in anyone. The more serious Tom becomes, the more he scares Summer away. We cringe as he goes from faux-pas to faux-pas, the strength of his infatuation blinding him to what Summer wants which is mostly to keep her distance.

500 Days, director Marc Webb’s first feature film, is unpredictable, cliché-free, as far from the habitual rom-com as possible, with the added perks of intelligent nods to cinema history and to pop culture. It offers unexpected pleasures that make this gem of a movie, highly acclaimed at Sundance and by critics, very different from the cute, tongue-in-cheek indies of “Little Miss Sunshine” mold.

Watch Summer when Tom makes her discover the delights of downtown LA architecture (who knew?) or see Tom in a park after his first night with Summer as he first struts and then breaks into such a contagiously happy dance that everyone around him joins him. Then, along with his two best friends (Matthew Gray Gubler and Geoffrey Arend, both right on pitch) commiserate with him when he falls into utter dejection as Summer moves on. No happy end for this one, not now. But a new beginning later, perhaps?

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