Friday, July 17, 2009
500 Days Of Summer
It's Summer Time, And The Lovin' Ain't Easy (At
Least For Him)
Roller coaster romance in Los Angeles:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom, and Zooey Deschanel as Summer, in Marc Webb's
"(500) Days Of Summer", which opened today in the U.S. and Canada. (Photo:
Chuck Zlotnick/Fox Searchlight)
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Friday, July 17, 2009
"(500) Days Of Summer" is both delightful and demented -- at least that's true
of the tortuous complexity that its year-and-a-half relationship between Summer
(Zooey Deschanel) and Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) illustrates. The two meet
randomly at the same workplace (never a good place to start a romance) and they soon connect. As viewed by "Summer" director Marc Webb and
cinematographer Eric Steelberg, the Los Angeles of this film has never looked bleaker in the summertime.
Drab, almost monochromatic bluish green and pale beige hues dominate Mr. Webb's City of Angels, mirroring the
melancholy of a journey of two strangers who think they know each other.
There's plenty to laugh about in the film though, which is set out of sequence
via flashback episodes of Tom, a young man, a hopeless (and hopeful) romantic who believes in the
currency of love and relationships, and Summer, a distant woman who lives in the
moment and without a hint of emotion. This contrast makes for some uneasy
moments and spontaneity, and the film, filled with good music and a fond
affection for Ringo Starr, has an original feel to it.
"(500) Days Of
Summer", which opened today in the U.S. and Canada, provides a hint of both the expected and unexpected -- to call it a
romantic comedy wouldn't be wrong at all, but romantic agony and ecstasy is its
heart. Whatever one makes of Mr. Webb's film, it is certainly the most
interesting and engaging film on romance to emerge from the Hollywood studio
system thus far in 2009. For some that may not be saying much, but given
the track record of Hollywood romance films this year ("Bride Wars",
"Confessions Of A Shopaholic",
"He's Just Not That Into You",
Girlfriends Past" among others), it's an encouraging start. Possibly not
since "Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind" has the Hollywood studio system
(major or mini-major) brought out a romance story this sincere and heartfelt.
The most impressive aspect of "(500) Days Of Summer" is its script, astutely
crafted by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. Their screenplay
showcases a number of memorable lines of dialogue, and the situations between
Summer and Tom have a rawness and stark honesty to them that occasionally
disturbs. Even so, the writers don't appear to intentionally reference
the degrees of the pain of human relationships and intimacy that Ingmar Bergmann was
so renowned for, even if he's mentioned in the film. Mr. Neustadter
talked recently about modeling the script on his own roller-coaster romance, and
the authenticity of what registers is matched only by the performance of Mr.
Gordon-Levitt, who makes Tom a pained, conflicted but sanguine innocent in the
rules of the love game. Ms. Deschanel effectively channels a lack of
self-awareness into Summer, a mercurial type belying the
feelings that make her tick. It's a good performance within the context of the
film and some moviegoers will recognize themselves in Summer, though it's Mr.
Gordon-Levitt's Tom that many men (as well as lots of women) will indentify
Smart, witty and sharp, "(500) Days Of Summer" plays like a Rolodex of emotion,
charm and love -- at 500th sight.
With: Geoffrey Arend, Clark Gregg, Chloe Grace Moritz, Matthew Gray Gubler,
Rachel Boston and Minka Kelly.
"(500) Days Of Summer" is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture
Association of America for sexual material and language. The film's
duration is one hour and 36 minutes, but feels longer.
Popcorn Reel Extra: "(500) Days Of Summer" Q&A at the 15th Annual Los
Angeles Film Festival.
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