Wednesday, 16 February 2011

(500) Days of Summer

Directed by Marc Webb
USA 2009

I must admit - I am not very familiar with US cinematography. Not that I have something against it, I simply find movies form other countries more exiting. But every now and then I stumble upon something that truly amaze me. My way to find interesting films is a little information that certain movie was screened at Sundance Film Festival. Most of the times it works perfectly and this is how I found this gem.

We are warn straight from the beginning that “This is Not A Love Story”, even thought everything seems like it is going to be one. But despite the forewarning we are given, “(500) Days of Summer” is a love story. It may not be the typical one or follow the conventional “predictable romantic comedy” plot devices, but it is still a movie about love. The difference is that is actually quite smart. In the way the plot is pretty much the cliché: boy meets a girl, boy falls in love with girl, girl breaks up with boy, boy has his heart broken, boy gets over girl, boy starts new life. Simple, and one very true to life formula but I really love the new angle this issues are portrayed. This indie movie really took the simple fact of life to a new level by the narration and the cinematography. The arrangement of the plot was superb! It's a refreshingly different take on relationship, and apart from ridiculously melodramatic quitting scene, not at all predictable. This obligatory-happy ending is the only weak point of the movie, apart from it “(500) Days of Summer” is a pure joy!

In a style reminiscent of Annie Hall, “(500) Days of Summer” tells the story of Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a failed architect who makes a living by writing greetings cards, as he reflects back on his relationship with the quirky, independent and allergic to commitment Summer (Zooey Deschanel). Tom is totally in love and fully believes that she is The One. She is attractive. She likes the same music as he does. Summer, on the other hand, is the product of divorced parents that doesn’t believe in love or fate and keeps relationships casual. As the title indicates, this fresh and creative script jumps us back and forth in time through the 500 days of their relationship. That number defines the beginning, middle and end of Tom and Summer - as the film so boldly tells us right up front that that she will break his heart. In non-linearly way, from day 42 to day 1 to day 387 and so on, we are observing changes that happen over the course of a relationship, as Tom is reliving every moment to try and figure out where it all went wrong. We see them break up, then we see them meet, then we see them falling apart, then we see them falling in love. It’s a genuinely interesting take on the narration. I particularly love the idea that Tom works as a copywriter for a greeting card company, so you can imagine how the words on the cards vary according to which stage of the relationship he’s in. I also love the part where the "expectation" and the "reality" scenes were placed next to each other for comparison. Director Marc Webb uses some amusing techniques (a split-screen technique to tell us about their lives in parallel, animation, musical dance number and a hilarious tribute to European cinema) not only to give the film its “indie-ness” but also to show how Tom is experiencing things. Surrealistic visual touches, the awesome soundtrack and incredibly charming characters make this movie as close to perfect as a movie gets.

The movie isn’t flawless though. I've already mentioned the ending, that seems a bit too contrived in contrast to the very real feelings portrayed throughout the rest of the movie. Tom's anti-sentiment rant during an work meeting, when he attacks his colleagues for peddling lies and then resigns out of moral indignation, is a bit too bombast. Also Tom's little sister Rachel (Chloe Moretz), an exceptionally insightful child with social wisdom that couldn’t be explained by her time on this earth, from whom he receives counsel, is charming but sometimes her wisdom is a little bit too much:)

The film is about admitting that sometimes people just aren’t meant to be together in the end. It's as truthful a documentation of love and heartbreak you’ll find on celluloid, an anti-fairytale that plays with the idea of a single soulmate and eternal happiness. It doesn't say anything new about boy meets girl problems, instead, it wins over its audience with a style.

“(500) Days of Summer” is not “Annie Hall” but even if it's not A Great Movie, it's still a thoughtful, bittersweet, subtle, charming and irresistible little film, which you will surely want to see again.

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