Andy Bockelman: ‘(500) Days’ is ideal movie, summer or otherwise | CraigDailyPress.com
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Andy Bockelman: ‘(500) Days’ is ideal movie, summer or otherwise

'(500) Days of Summer'

Rating 3 out of 4 stars

95 minutes

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel and Clark Gregg.

You’d think when the end of a movie is completely spelled out, you wouldn’t be interested in the rest of the story. See “(500) Days of Summer” to learn how wrong you are.

Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) believes with all his heart in the concept of “love at first sight.” So when he catches a glance of his newest co-worker, Summer (Zooey Deschanel), he is instantly smitten.

Too bad the romance won’t last.

When they begin dating, Tom learns Summer isn’t interested in a committed relationship and is skeptical of love as a whole. But, he refuses to accept this, and as they inevitably become deeper and deeper in their involvement, he’s still head over heels while she is unsure of taking things further.

Still, Tom is steadfast in his feelings and doesn’t change his position even once they break up.

As two of the most skilled acting talents under 30, Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel mesh terrifically.

He provides a mature depth to a character that could be extremely unlikable. Another actor might play Tom as whiny and wimpy, which he is to a certain degree, but Gordon-Levitt holds back from being just another needy boyfriend prior to the break-up and a pathetic sad-sack after the fact.

Likewise, Deschanel exemplifies the charisma of the kind of girl who everybody loves.

Whether it’s in her adorable wardrobe – nearly every piece of clothing she wears is the same exclusive shade of sky blue seen in her eyes – or her firm insistence that Ringo was the best Beatle – “Octopus’s Garden” does have some die-hard fans, apparently – she makes the quirky and quaint all that much the better.

Of course, it stings all the more when she refers to Tom as the dreaded F-word: friend.

The movie’s parenthetical title is held up by the frequent intervals that count down the days of the relationship, which are shown completely out of order. Jumping from day 1 to 282 to 488 and more, back and forth, it’s easy to get dizzy as the whirlwind romance dwindles, hits the rocks, begins, etc., in that succession.

The strength of this plot format may be more absorbing for some viewers, as will the authenticity of Tom’s musical favorites, such as the Smiths and The Clash – he doesn’t look like much of a punk fan, truthfully.

However, there is no escaping the sincerity of the film, which conceives a story that is a refreshing combination of sweetness and cynicism.

Debuting director Marc Webb shows his music video talents off with surprising adeptness.

You must be doing something right when you can seamlessly shift from an impromptu song and dance number to Hall & Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” – including an animated bluebird on Tom’s shoulder – to a crumpled, monochromatic sketch of a city street that erases itself into emptiness.

The parodies of an Ingmar Bergman retrospective are also startlingly good, if you get the references.

But, these glossier portions aside, the love affair of Tom and Summer is grounded in reality, effectively showing the good and the bad, the joy and the misery and everything in between.

“(500) Days of Summer” is a romance story for people who mock romance stories. Similarly offbeat films like “The Graduate” and “Sid and Nancy” come into discussion by Tom and Summer to emphasize the point that this isn’t your average love tale.

But more importantly, it stresses the point that Summer is indeed Sid Vicious.

Well, more or less.


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