Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

500 Days of Summer

I might start ranting incoherently here, so be warned.

Anyway, it's rare when a movie moves me.  This one did.  It's the kind of experience where as you're watching it you kind of start nodding your head and saying to yourself, "Yeah, brother, I have been there."  Because let's face it, most adults have had someone who hurt them emotionally at one time or another.

The narrator says at the beginning that "This is not a love story" and that's true.  Most love stories just focus on the falling in love part.  Cinderella meets Prince Charming they overcome an obstacle, have a few laughs, and ride off into the sunset.  Other movies focus on the end of the relationship with the cheating, anger, recrimination, and ultimate separation.  This movie focuses on the whole process from beginning to end, squeezing it into 500 days.  (And that's not giving anything away because the movie follows a non-linear structure where we jump from beginning to end to middle and so forth.)

Basically to put it linearly, at Day 1 we have Tom Hanson (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) working at the New Hampshire Card Company, which as you might expect is located in Los Angeles, CA.  During a meeting, Tom's boss is interrupted by his new assistant Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and just about instantly Tom is smitten.

The problem is that she doesn't seem all that interested in him.  So for the first 25 or so days Tom goes through trying to get her attention to cursing her as a tease.  Then comes a karaoke party after work where they both have a little too much to drink and sing some bad songs and finally things start taking off.

Except there's a problem.  Of course there is!  While Tom thinks he loves Summer, she's not wanting to make things too involved.  Even after they sleep together, even after over 200 days together, she insists they're "just friends."  Yeah, brother, I've been there.  Sorry gals, but if a man's been inside you then either you're his girlfriend or his whore--which do you want to be?  There is no such thing as casual sex or a f**k buddy, OK?  Not in the real world.  Not even in the movies!  (See, I warned you.)

Well of course this leads to things unraveling.  While she seems to get off relatively easy, Tom has a much more difficult time letting go.  Really he spends about 200 days ultimately wallowing in misery and clinging to slim hopes of a reconciliation.

At least in my mind, this movie perfectly captures the whole relationship game.  That's why it moved me, as I said in the beginning.  I could so empathize with what Tom went through that I couldn't help but go back through my own memories.  Thanks for opening old wounds!  Yeah, brother, I've been there.  Maybe not quite to this extent, but close enough.  God willing I won't be there again, but the problem with the game of love is that you frequently go tilting at windmills.  Or maybe it's more like the old lady at the slot machine who keeps pulling the lever 24 hours a day thinking THIS time will be the lucky one.  And maybe it will be--ah, there's the rub.  Those of us still in the game always cling to that hope, however slim it might be.

Before I get off too far on another rant, not everything in this movie worked for me.  The overly precocious little sister Tom gets relationship advice from just grated on my nerves.  That is one area where Tom and I clearly diverged, because my sisters are completely useless for relationship advice.  (That's the subject of another rant.)  It's not enough to ruin the movie for me, or even take off a half star.

Even if you have found your True Love or close enough to it, you can probably still relate to this story at one point in time.  Most everyone has a Summer in their life.  An evil, soul-snatching, heart-crushing...OK, I'll stop now.

BTW, during the movie it says that Summer quoted a song from Belle & Sebastian's "Boy With the Arab Strap" in her yearbook.  Ironically I'd bought a couple of B&S albums this month.  So I took that as a sign to go buy that ablum.  Anything that prompts me to spend money definitely moved me.

That is all.

My score:  90/100 (4 stars)

Metacritic score: 76/100 (3 stars)

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