500 Days of Summer is a winningly sweet, self-consciously cute, romantic movie starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. It tells the story of their characters’ relationship in a mixed-up chronology, with some knowing voice-over and meta-movie gimmicks. The gimmicks are fine, but they’re nothing I haven’t seen before. What I haven’t seen before, and what I love about the movie, is that it manages to both be skeptical and credulous about Love.
The posters bill it as “Not A Love Story” but it most certainly is, it’s just a story of a love between a boy and a girl that burns bright and, unlike most romantic movies, fades. What I’m not sure of is whether it’s a date movie, so frankly does it acknowledge that a relationship may contain what W.H. Auden calls a “more loving one”.
Tom (Gordon-Levitt) is a greeting card writer who secretly wants to be an architect. (Yes, the director Marc Webb and screenwriters Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, don’t give the impression that they know much about how a greeting card company is run, or how an aspiring architect would talk. But they can be forgiven because the movie does demonstrate insight into the human heart.) One fine day, the office gets a new, adorable assistant in the form of Summer Finn (Deschanel). Tom falls hard for her and, after some flirtation, they begin an office romance.
There’s a lot of cute romantic scenes. And the movie plays with your expectations about where the relationship is going, and whether, when it ends, that it might be rekindled. The filmmakers do a great job of tapping into both the hormonal headrush of first love and the ennui of the end of the affair. I’ll say no more, other than I recommend the film.
Okay, one spoiler. The movie feels very New York with its Williamsburg fashions, skyscrapers and especially the indie music soundtrack. In the biggest surprise of the film, we discover that it takes place in Los Angeles!