by Afra Nariman
500 Days of Summer (2009)
Director: Marc Webb
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel
Kind of like if Annie Hall meets How I Met Your Mother.
500 Days of Summer is very good in its storytelling, but I did wish for it to be more consistently introspective at times. This also would have been beneficial in regards to the film’s critique of dating behaviors. This critique is done primarily through the film’s depiction of the character Tom, utilizing a very subtle satire coupled with framing the story from his perspective, which helps direct the satirical criticisms at both Tom and at potential audiences that may exhibit similar traits in their own lives and their approach to relationships. That being said, the film treats both of its characters, Tom and Summer, with empathy and compassion. It humanizes their struggles concerning love, individuality, and more — but the film also sort of pokes fun at them and how universal and timeless some of these struggles are (i.e. the Bergman riffs: “suffering… suffering… suffering…”). In short, we aren’t the first ones to feel alone, or lost, or afraid, or who “existentially suffer” — but that doesn’t mean dealing with these struggles are easy, or that confronting the need to shift one’s perspective on such concepts, is simple. The film essentially sheds light on the behaviors that allow these things to persist, and reveals why someone such as Tom must change the way he approaches relationships, in order to be in a successful one.
For Tom, the story of the 500 days depicted here originally felt like the shattering of what his expectations for love had always been; but the film doesn’t necessarily do that. It grounds the concept, highlights that it’s never that simple, but ultimately 500 Days of Summer is still hopeful in its position on love. It merely shatters Tom’s ego, in regards to how he perceived love should be experienced.
MY RATING /5:
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