500 Days of Summer has all the makings of an indie masterpiece. An appropriately hip soundtrack scores a tale of unlove between two twenty-somethings in modern day LA. Throw in some ironic humor, an impeccable supporting cast and the indie princess herself, Zooey Deschanel and the movie cannot possibly go wrong.
The plot unhinges so much more than typical romance and the heartbreak of losing the one you love, it becomes a lesson in sadism. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom Hansen, a greeting card writer who falls hopelessly in love with Summer (Deschanel) thereby providing the plot basis that drives the entire movie. From their first encounter (as well as the narrator’s insistence) a dismal end is forecast for the relationship. Summer is steadfastly against the proposition of love, most likely stemming from a parental divorce early in her childhood. Though she makes this abundantly clear from the beginning, we still find ourselves believing in their decent to the throes of love. No matter how many times the movie reminds you of the fact that Summer and Tom will not live happily ever after, one cannot help but make an attempt to will it into existence.
We see Tom in sharply differentiated moods, during his relationship with Summer and post-Summer an almost complete opposition in personality and overall happiness. We suffer right along with Tom, all the while laughing at sad injustices of love being perpetuated on the screen. I mentioned previously a lesson in sadism that is introduced throughout the movie. 500 Days of Summer’s nonlinear arrangement allows for one scene of joyous exuberance to be followed by days of drunken stupor and twinkies. It also allows for the sheer brutality of Summer’s actions to be even more substantiated, depending on your feelings about the existence of love.
Outside of its torturous treatment of Tom (and sometimes during) we find ourselves truly entertained and in the midst of a genuinely funny movie. Tom’s vengeful verbal outbursts against his forlorn love are one such instance, but the movie also toys with a more juvenile comedy that certainly succeeds. Through Tom’s two best friends and his incredibly wise adolescent sister, this less mature brand of comedy takes shape. Drunkenness and stupidity are powerful comedic motivators when used properly and all three characters shine in their jocular roles.
Something also must be said about the musical selection for the movie which includes Deschanel’s own band She & Him and so much more to gently caress your inner ear. Audiophiles rejoice! The Black Lips, The Smiths and Feist are just a few of the artists perfectly utilized throughout the movie, a cadre of hip indie musicians with definite relevance to the overarching plot. Subtle symbiosis between music and movie is often ignored by the cinematic elite opting instead for branded in-your-face obvious selections *cough Watchmen cough* This however is different, the sporadic mood of 500 Days is encapsulated by both Joseph Gordon-Levitts brilliant acting and the aptly configured soundtrack.
Now it would be wholeheartedly uncouth of me to give away the ending of the movie as well as any specific scenes in detail so I will conclude in saying this: 500 Days of Summer is most certainly (cinematically, critically, visually and aurally) the best movie I have seen this summer and leaving me fearful of a pain so rending that only love could be responsible.