I watched 500 Days of Summer in the middle of the night* yesterday and…well, I have no idea what to say about it. Oh, the movie’s very well shot and the soundtrack is awesome and everything’s very tastefully done and both the lead actors are great(Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel; the others are good, too, but these guys are awesome), so you should definitely watch it if you can. But I don’t honestly know what to say about the central premise.
On the one hand, it says very clearly right at the start that this is not a love story, and it certainly isn’t. A great portion of the film is spent “debunking” the very idea of love, and elaborating on what happens when people have irrational expectations of each other, and of how much one can leave to “Fate”. Tom Hansen is presented as the epitome of naivete, and there isn’t much ambiguity on this.
Narrator: This is a story of boy meets girl. The boy, Tom Hansen of Margate, New Jersey, grew up believing that he’d never truly be happy until the day he met the one. This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad British pop music and a total mis-reading of the movie ‘The Graduate’. The girl, Summer Finn of Shinnecock, Michigan, did not share this belief. Since the disintegration of her parent’s marriage she’d only love two things. The first was her long dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off and not feel a thing. Tom meets Summer on January 8th. He knows almost immediately she is who he has been searching for. This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.
On the other hand, the very clear message at the end is that it does play an inescapable role, that there is someone for everyone (and strongly implies that there are, at the very least, very few people for any given person, and that any two people who get along well with each other and feel strongly about each other won’t necessarily make it, and often for completely mystical reasons) and that “love” isn’t something to debunk, that it’s real and that you will find it eventually, just not necessarily when you expect to find it.
The intended composite message is, I presume, something along the lines of “don’t rely on fate all the time, but do grasp an opportunity when it seems like the right thing to do, take people at their word when they say they don’t want to be in a relationship, love is real but it’s not necessarily easy to find” , etc.
Summer: You weren’t wrong, Tom. You were just wrong about me.
All of which is quite reasonable. I don’t know what I’m complaining about, but I am. I find this film entirely too cozy and cynical at the same time. The synthesis seems imperfect. I’m in the minority here, I think: it has an 8.1 on imdb and an 87% on rotten tomatoes, and any scattered reviews I saw all seem to praise it.
Hmm. That’s not really saying much. I’d give it that much, too, because it really is a great movie, despite the…discord. It’s well-shot, the little bits of animation in between don’t distract from the plot, and as I said above, all the performances and settings are wonderful. Maybe older or more sophisticated critics understand that the discord and the confusion is the point. I should be able to accept that. I just don’t.
*is 3AM to 5AM the middle of the night or more like just before dawn? My sleep cycles have adjusted so that 2AM feels like midnight, so to me personally it feels like the former, but I’m guessing it’s technically just before dawn. Irrelevant, anyway.