500 Days of Summer
Runtime: 1 hr 36 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Marc Webb
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler, Clark Gregg, Rachel Boston
Finds its own, wonderful voice.
Review by: MiamiMovieCritic
Added: 8 years ago
“She took a giant shit on my face.”
Ah, we can all relate to that one. Not literally, of course, unless there happen to be some German scheisse video performers in the audience. This is a sentiment expressed by young Tom Hanssen after he breaks up with the maddening girl of his dreams. He serves as our surrogate in one of the funniest, most cathartic movies about unrequited love I’ve ever seen.
Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the best actor of my generation) works as a writer of greeting cards. The idiosyncratic new girl in the office is Summer (Zooey Deschanel). Tom is immediately smitten with her in a memorable scene where Summer recognizes the song he’s listening to on his iPod (it’s “There Is a Light that Will Never Go Out” by The Smiths). The film skips around back and forth between the 500 days they spend together, as Tom insists Summer is the one, and Summer insists they’re just friends, albeit with some very nice benefits.
Music video director Marc Webb and his writers, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, set up the perfect comic tone with a disclaimer that will have audiences laughing in the first 10 seconds. There are a few slip-ups along the way – contrary to 500 Days of Summer’s place on the IMDb Top 250, this is not a perfect film. The narration is distracting, and the early scenes of Tom and Summer as kids borrow too heavily from the Wes Anderson playbook. (Nice reference to The Boy with the Arab Strap by Belle & Sebastian, though.) The rest of the film finds its own, wonderful voice, complete with musical interludes and some terrifically chosen location shooting in Los Angeles.
Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel are both amazing and I hope they work together again; a two-shot of them smiling at each other could just about set the world on fire. As much as people love to fawn over Deschanel, I found her character slightly underwritten, and was more taken with Gordon-Levitt’s performance. As Summer slips further from his grasp, and Tom tries-tries-tries to understand, Gordon-Levitt creates a completely open-hearted and loveable human being. By the end you’ll want to sit down with this guy, put your arm around him, and have a good cry.