on 10 September 2009
Before seeing this, I had already pigeon-holed this as the typical rom-com concept that's been flogged to death of late. Salvation I thought, may come in it's indie-like feel having seen a trailer. After going to 'keep the peace' with my girlfriend, I've come away very pleasently surprised.
The basic plotline of 'boy meets girl' may start the film, but a short way into it's running time, it's apparent this is going somewhere different.
The film's structure is all over the place chronologically. It's timeline moves back and forth with fevered intensity, but works all the better for it(Helpfully, for those not paying attention, each of the 500 days in question is numbered onscreen).
Refreshingly, much of the standard material normally seen in this sort of fare is missing.
Both leads are hugely appealing and likable, displaying believable chemistry together when scenes call for it.
The director, and the two screenwriters are male, which I found lent the Joseph Gordon Levitt's Tom the more sympathetic edge. Zooey Deschanel's title character Summer however, comes across as a representation of every woman man has failed to truely understand. Anyone who is a fan of author Mike Gayle, will find similarities of his work here.
For a film such as it is, the overall tone is decidedly pro male and ever so slightly dark, but don't let that put you ladies off. There are some nice moments of light comedy, and the 'morning after' scene is superb. Another, demonstrating a key moment with both 'expectation' and 'reality' using a splitscreen is particularly poignant. And somewhere buried in the material, yes, there is ultimately romance as well.
The soundtrack is excellent and subtley used, making a marked change from the likes of One Republic being blasted out.
I saw this in a screen packed with about 80% women, most of which seemed to to leave smiling, having enjoyed it immensely. Despite my initial protestations, I'm not ashamed to say it had the same affect on me.
on 12 February 2010
This is not a love story. This is a story about love.
Exactly right. Forget your Hugh Grants, your comic misunderstandings, boy meets girl, loses her, gets her back with the help of some wacky friends (usually gay) while living in an extremely white version of London or painfully cool New York type of romcom. 500 Days...is a true and funny (not to mention sometimes uncomfortable) look at relationships and their difficulties.
It has to be said, this is much more from the man's POV than usual romcoms. As such, Summer doesn't come off as 100% likeable but then why should she? She's a well drawn character, not something out of a Richard Curtis film. In any case, I'd recommend this to blokes if they want to laugh at themselves, and recommend it to women who want a better understanding of their men.
Put it this way: I laughed more than my wife did. And my favourite film is Night of the Living Dead.
on 29 July 2012
Please note that this is a review of the film and not the Blu-Ray transfer. This also contains spoilers.
Let's get one thing straight from the start, (500) Days of Summer is not your average Hugh Grant, happily-ever-after romantic comedy flick. Like the tagline says, this is not a love story; this is a story about love. Director Marc Webb certainly knew what he was doing whevn he hired the two leading actors, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick, Inception), who plays charming yet naïve Tom, and Zooey Deschanel (New Girl, The Happening) who takes the role of Summer, the strikingly beautiful yet quirky love-interest. The two have remarkable chemistry throughout the film, and many memorable moments that will jerk an emotion or two. The film's basic setting is perfect for the film; Los Angeles captures the troubles of a modern day relationship.
The film's structure is very unique, rather than following a linear A-to-B, start-to-finish motion, it chooses to show the audience Tom's time with Summer in a jittery, random timeline, starting with the day he meets her in his workplace, to the day when they finally say their goodbyes. This adds a certain level of fresh originality to the film; it almost feels like a light-hearted, cute version of Christopher Nolan's Memento. In some parts of the film, it shows the aftermath of a previous argument between the couple that has the audience has not seen yet, creating a sense of dramatic irony when the argument is finally shown. This keeps the viewer intrigued as to what will happen next in this rollercoaster/train wreck of a relationship between the couple.
The films soundtrack is second-to-none, featuring various indie artists such as The Smiths (of whom play a large part of Tom and Summer's relationship, including a well-known scene that takes place inside of an elevator), Regina Spektor and Mumm-Ra, to name a few. The score matches the films mood and indie attitude that the film contains, from soft and happy twee, to loud and unsettling indie rock. One memorable scene indicates when the real emotion comes into the film, during a scene which shows Tom's expectations and the reality of what is happening side by side, with Regina Spektor's haunting voice being played in the background, it's clear that this isn't going to be a happy ending.
The characters of Tom and Summer have been cast perfectly; Gordon-Levitt's performance in particular is astounding. Tom's character is very believable as he goes through the different stages of the film, we see him displaying a wide range of emotions from lust to love, and from envy to sorrow, Levitt pulled of the character flawlessly. Summer's character, played by Deschanel, is a little bit less impressive. I couldn't help think that throughout the film, Summer seemed very one-dimensional and bland. Whereas Tom goes through a whole cycle of emotions, Summer always sticks to the `I-don't-care' expression, even in particular scenes in which Summer is supposed to be genuinely happy and enjoying herself. The two's chemistry however, as I stated before, is incredible. From holding hands in Ikea to avoiding each other on a train, the two's relationship is so believable that you would have thought that it was genuinely happening. The couple's relationship is as believable as that of Jack and Rose from James Cameron's Titanic; it really is that good.
The supporting cast is also very good, from Chloë Moretz (Kick-Ass) as Tom's younger yet wiser sister, to Geoffrey Arand who plays his blunt yet comical best friend; these characters provide some much needed comic relief to the film. Whilst that's not to say that the film isn't humorous, I don't see the comedy as the main aspect of the film. The forced humour between Tom and Summer sometimes feels as though it was added in to keep that `rom-com' title. The film's romance is definitely there, but the comedy feels ever so slightly immature and sickly.
One particular scene involves Tom and Summer playing a game that Summer made up whilst having a romantic picnic. The aim of the game is to see who can shout the word `penis' the loudest. This gives us a clear indication of Summer's childishness and immaturity that will be a recurring theme throughout the majority of the film. Please don't think that I'm saying that all of their moments together are too try-hard.
(500) Days of Summer's story is a modern twist on the generic romantic comedy film. It does contain the age-old, `boy meets girl' story, but also contains `boy falls in love with girl, girl doesn't fall in love with boy'. Let me break down the story for you, Tom and Summer meet, Tom falls in love with Summer, Summer doesn't feel the same way but drags Tom along like a puppy, Tom realises that she doesn't love him, Summer leaves but Tom can't forget her. Keep in mind that this doesn't happen in that order during the film; however that is the chronological order of the film. The film's story is extremely powerful, with use of dramatic dialogue, perfect pace and a moving moral. If you've ever had to deal with rejection and/or heartbreak, this film will definitely force a tear or two.
Not everything about the story is perfect though. The motives of Summer can be quite questionable to say the very least, particularly towards the ending of the film's duration. During the latter half of the film, because of her actions, Summer can be seen as somewhat of an antagonist. Why Summer would leave Tom broken-hearted and a short while later have a husband is unanswered and quite bewildering.
The cinematography is superb in the film, the lighting is highly suitable in specific parts of the film, for example the setting is bright and cheerful during the happy parts of the film, and during more dark and moody parts, the lighting really captures the sadness that the characters are going through. The pace of the film is well done, whilst I mentioned that the film plays in random part of Tom's and Summer's relationship, it does this is a smart and clever way as it never gives away large parts of the plot and twists of their relationship, but it also manages to keep you interested in where their relationship will head next. A clever use of this is at a point about half way in the film which shows Tom going into an elevator on the `morning-after', looking smart and having a smile on his face, we then see the transition to him getting out of the elevator about a month later looking miserable and dirty.
Marc Webb has certainly made a fine film here, and it will easily be regarded as one of the best indie films of the decade, by the hipsters and the mainstream audience alike. The perfect combination of mood and comedy creates a balance of superb film making that shows how cool and slick films can be. I personally thoroughly enjoyed this film, most of the aspects of this film are perfect, there are just a few niggles that needed to be ironed out. If you're coming into this film expecting a happy and romantic chick-flick, you will be disappointed with this film, however as its own genre, it is a truly fantastic film.
on 29 May 2015
I think the label RomCom is not very accurate for this movie; it is more an exploration of boy meets girl, falls in love, and then love fades away. Unusual in telling the story from the man's point of view. Everything about it rings painfully true (I am a man, and there was nothing I hadn't experienced at one time or another).
I agree with other reviews in that the actors and chemistry are perfect; there's humour and sadness. And the unusual style of the movie adds to the interest. I really like it.
Well maybe you can think of it as a RomCom, for men. Think it also as a handbook on the fickleness and charm of women.
on 18 September 2009
Tom (Gordon-Levitt) believes in true love and is instantly attracted to a new office employee who, because of her parent's divorce has a damaged view on the emotion.
5 years ago Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind was released, bringing about a revitalizing and refreshing taste of romance genre, a cutting edge approach which saw Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet struggle to remember when they last met owing to a dangerous memory procedure. Blending an edge of fantasy with the dramatic implications with real life was a stroke of genius, and here we see a similar approach as director Marc Webb uses real life story of guy meets girl and adds a sharp blend of diverse filming.
One thing about romantic comedy dramas is that you know what you want from and the expectancy is set. 500 days is very much different from your average Hugh Grant flick though. For starters we see numerous fantasy montages, flashbacks, split screens and a wonderful music parody of the morning after and all will make you smile, laugh and even come the end, maybe shed a tear. The perfect use of justifying the genre is the split screen just past half way through where Tom goes to Summer's apartment with one side labelled expectations and the other reality. Without the aid of the forgettable narration we can see clearly into the young guy's mind, and there is no hint of hyperbole here, I struggle to recall anything that has been so well thought out in a romance film. It is staggering realistic and such a unique insight into a lonely guy's mind.
Gordon-Levitt adds the charm to this scene but his quiet dreams and cheeky expressions will have viewers on his side. Deschanel is wonderfully kooky once more and though you may spite her in numerous scenes, everything has reason in the end.
Speaking of which adds a wonderful comic touch and thank heavens doesn't go all soppy and conventional on us. Not since Lost in Translation has an ending in a romance been so well thought out.
The pair of actors balances each other well with Tom's friends adding the comic touches; though his younger sister may seem funny it is quite unlikely her advice is as profound as she seems to think. As mentioned Mark Webb's directional debut brings about new touches with his ability to take the picture out of context into his own fantasy world without seeming too otherworldly, which is a great credit as these touches really are the keystone to this film's success.
Where it fits amongst other big romantic comedies like When Harry met Sally, Eternal Sunshine and Titanic is difficult to say. It has such an adept approach to the genre and its diverse telling is exquisite and with such a likable cast and array of protagonists, it must certainly be up there.
on 5 January 2012
To be honest, when I went to the cinema to see this I was skeptical at first. Expecting the usual cliche ridden rom com I was delighted when this turned to be very unique and funny. I loved how the love story was told through the guys eyes for a change, especially as the character Tom is extremely likable. The whole vibe of the film is very indie/retro so if that's your style, this is for you. However, the reach goes farther than the hipster crowd as the story and characters are down to earth and fun. I keep coming back to this film and it's now one of my very favourites. I highly recommend it.
on 4 January 2012
A lot of movies I purchase these days get a bit boring the second or third time you watch them, but in 500 Days of Summer you notice new things every time, which makes it worthwhile. I would like to comment on something I'm sure many people have noticed: that there aren't really any suitable films anymore. If you want to watch a rom-com with your daughter, the only choices available are either brainless or really sexual - to the extent that you feel uncomfortable watching them with your daughter! 500 Days of Summer is genuinely funny (the best joke comes at the end!) and watchable. Would note that it moves quite fast so looking away from the screen for even a moment can mean that you miss a whole chunk. I really fell for the guy - he's so sweet and well meaning, not the popular jock you often get in so many movies these days. Would really recommend!
on 28 December 2014
The first minute of the film the narrator states that this isn't a love story. Although it arguably is, I'd say it's more of a break-up story (not a spoiler). This is probably the first really good rom-com that guys don't have to be embarrassed to watch and the characters are quite relatable (a little too much to me) and apart from the annoying "wise" kid sister, it's a pretty solid cast and a great soundtrack.
Blu-ray transfer is very good though I haven't seen it in any other format so can't compare. The fact that it doesn't come with a digital copy (like most of the DVD releases) and lack of extra features are a tad disappointing, but the film more than makes up for it.
on 26 January 2010
I'll be honest: I'm not exactly a romantic comedy aficionado, so on the surface that would imply - or you'd presume - that I'm not the sort of person who'd watch 500 Days of Summer, let alone enjoy it.
However, 500 Days... isn't a mere rom com, and certainly doesn't follow the usual route of boy meets girl (etc etc) like you'd expect from a rom com: in this case, boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl...but girl isn't interested in anything more than a casual fling, whilst he wants far more from their relationship, believing her to be The Girl For Him.
Rather than following the relationship from start to finish, 500 Days... shows their relationship ending before we even see them meet, and from then on skips between key dates, where things are good, things are bad, and things from one time affect another, or clearly aren't as good as they weren't before. In doing this, not only do we see the rose-tinted version of the relationship Tom believes he had, but also the reasons it didn't work out, or wasn't as good as he first assumed. As a result, we see Tom sink into depression - especially when he discovers Summer has gone back on her no commitment policy.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt carries the film as Tom, demonstrating once again that he's such an underrated actor, at one time a happy-go-lucky guy in a frustrating job, another time happy in love with Summer, and others angry at her lack of commitment to him or despondent at their breakup. At no point does he come across as obnoxious or whiny, instead like so many people at a loss when the relationship they thought was perfect has ended, and wasn't really that perfect. Equally good is Zooey Deschanel as Summer, making a role that could turn the audience against her, and instead making her bewitching and understandable, albeit retaining an air of the unknown, which is what makes her so captivating to Tom.
The writing is spot-on, balancing the comedy and some flights of fancy that come with being loved-up (Tom's song and dance number) as well as the feeling of utter dejection when you find you lost your chance of happiness, and by placing them in close context makes Tom that much more sympathetic, even when he mopes around in a lake of self-pity, despite his friend's best efforts to cheer him up. There's also a great soundtrack, including both Tom and Summer's shared love of The Smiths, and a great use of Mumm-Ra's She's Got You High to end the film on a more positive note.
In other words, a film that manages to convey the ups and downs of true love - or something you think is true love - which manages to show both the very real lows alongside the equally real highs, and be one of the most enjoyable films of the last year. Worth watching. Worth watching indeed.
on 25 August 2011
This film was marketed as a story about love, not a love story, and I didn't understand the difference until watching it. The story is played out out of chronological sequence which can be a little confusing at first but I really liked the way it was done. The film was well acted and made me think, but it also made me a bit depressed! Not the rom-com I was expecting; it wasn't very funny at all. I actually only bought it on a whim because one of my favourite artists (Regina Spektor) was featured on the soundtrack and while I don't regret the purchase, I'm glad I paid less than a fiver for it.
My verdict: worth a watch, but isn't going to win awards any time soon.