Tuesday, September 1, 2009

500 Days of Summer

At the very beginning of 500 Days of Summer, the voice over tells you straight up, "this is not a love story". Even with that said, I believe that 500 Days of Summer is one of the greatest yet tragic love stories ever told in modern film. A story that I myself can relate to, as the two main characters in this film are also in their mid-twenties, live in Los Angeles (where I lived for 5 years), and it’s told from the males point of view for once. I saw the film with my girlfriend who also really enjoyed it and she too could understand why I took such a liking to it. It’s an independent love story specifically made for a mid-twenties guy.

In the middle of the opening title sequence, I was thinking to myself, this is going to be my favorite film of the year, I can already tell. I somehow got a similar vibe from most of the theater as they went completely silent, being sucked into these two characters’ lives right off the bat as we see an split screen montage of home video clips of the two of them growing up while hearing a great song played over it by Regina Spektor that I still can't get out of my head. We know just from that montage alone that these two young people grew up in happy life styles, as happy normal people, and that this story can, and probably has happened to many of us.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom Hanson, a writer for a greeting card company in Los Angeles. He's not a down in the dumps type of guy- he's a guy with a pretty great job, some really good friends, his own apartment, etc. Not really out “searching” for a girlfriend. But then comes along the ever so independent yet sweet Summer Finn, played by Zooey Deschanel. She knows the things she wants out of life and love isn’t one of them. When she's hired as Toms boss’ assistant, he can't help but being around her all the time. He likes her right off the bat, and after a night of karaoke, she begins to grow a liking to him and he immediately falls for her. The film has a nice original way of jumping around from "Day 456" to say "Day 24" and so forth. At first I was thinking, is this concept gonna work?? I kind of just want to watch from the day they meet to day 500. Well that lasted about 30 seconds, because it works so well. It’s a very cool concept in a way that it keeps the story flowing at an original pacing process that the audience has never seen before. It also keeps the audiences emotions jumping from one place to another, as in one scene they’ll be fighting on day 400 and something, and in the next scene it’ll be just the second day they’ve met. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel both offer great performances as they seemingly just coast through their scenes together as if it’s happening in real life right in front of us. There is a great supporting role played by Toms best friend McKenzie, who offers one of the funniest scenes in the film while screaming drunk out of his mind on the karaoke stage at the bar. He continues to be a great comedic balance to the film throughout.

First time feature film director Marc Webb has done such an incredible job directing this film that it's amazing we haven't seen more of him until now. He's dabbled in music videos, and it certainly shows in a few scenes, such as one involving a dance number down the street with a blue cartoon bird that had the theater laughing like crazy. It's another great film under the belt of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who I think is one of the best young actors working in Hollywood today. With Mysterious Skin, Brick, The Lookout, and now this....he's also got one of the best film resumes of any young actor working in the biz today as well. The final scene will make some hold back tears. As Tom and Summer sit on that park bench talking we realize that love does strange things to us all, and that 500 Days of Summer delivers that to us in perfect form. From the acting, to the original script, to the performances, the pleasant looking downtown LA locations, and all the emotions that these things produced while put together on screen is why I walked away form this film thinking that this was definitely my favorite film of the year. With the new rules this year at the Academy having ten Best Picture nominees instead of five, I wouldn’t be surprised is 500 Days earned a spot among those ten.