Film Review: (500) Days Of Summer

If I’m honest I had no real desire to watch (500) Days Of Summer. In fact I had almost completely forgotten it existed or that I owned it until I was writing my review for Almost Famous, and when looking up Zooey Deschanel’s IMDb page saw it referenced in her filmography. But even then it wasn’t enough to draw it back into my life. It simply planted a seed.

And that seed germinated purely by chance because I was essentially, running late. I needed something fairly short to watch before heading to bed. That or accept a late night, and I like my sleep too much these days. So, while scanning back and forth across my DVD collection, it jumped out like a sore thumb, it’s name slightly framed thanks to my recent musings, and on inspection at only 91 minutes long, fitted my running time restriction perfectly.

Zooey Deschanel & Katy Perry - (500) Days Of Summer

I must admit though I wasn’t entirely sold upon it. I don’t know exactly why, really remember much about it as it’s been so long since I last watched it, but I just wasn’t really drawn to it. I couldn’t remember it being overly funny, or that inviting, and if I’m honest, I struggle with Zooey Deschanel as an actress. There is just something about her, an idiosyncrasy that I can’t tie down, that somehow winds me up, gets under my skin. That and the fact that every time I see her I can’t help but think she looks like the lost twin of Katy Perry.

And once again, all my problems towards her come flooding back in this. I just hate her, she’s done absolutely nothing I can highlight to justify it but I just don’t like her. And her character (Summer) I just found cold and sterile, stubborn and annoying. She just pushes my buttons and makes me want to scream and shout at her. I can’t actually believe that anybody could be as heartless and self-centred in the name of love as she is meant to be. But not only that, that people could be so blind to it. Her silence is so grating and infuriating that it didn’t matter whether it was a good or bad moment in the story, my hatred remained constant.

Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt - (500) Days Of Summer

And talking of blind acceptance Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom portrays a character that swings wildly in and out of acceptability and believable realism. When he’s together with Deschanel he just never looks comfortable, and they just never look compatible. You cannot buy that they would be together, his eyes almost look dead throughout and when he’s asked to deal with anything serious, there is almost a constant, resigned, look of self deprecating panic. Which is strange because I have memories of enjoying him in Looper and 50/50. Yet in (500) Days Of Summer I never once really felt any compassion towards him. I saw his suffering, his pain, his hurt, but I couldn’t connect to it because part of me felt like he’d brought it on himself and therefore, deserved it for being so blind and naive. I just wouldn’t want to be his friend in real life. As horrible as that is to say.

Whilst I dislike the main characters, because the film is constructed to tell it’s narrative in a oscillatory fashion rather than a linear trudge, I was never actually bored. It’s story isn’t gripping, it never gets under your skin or really draws you in, but also, you can never tell where it’s going either, so you watch every scene new. The back and forth fragments keeping you tied to the story, and stopping you from meandering mentally too far purely because you cannot go where it’s going to go next until it’s started to take you there. It’s not enough to salvage the film, but it’s enough to hold it just about together over it’s thankfully short running time.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (With Bird) - (500) Days Of Summer

I will admit though, I did laugh at times though. It is a film of shallow chuckles rather than anything that risks your sides splitting, but nether the less, the raised smiles, and passing laughs are fairly constant. The problem I think is that the film never really feels warm, or like it’s going to change temperature, and so you always keep your distant from it and this is highlighted in it’s one big comedic ensemble, which could have been lifted straight from any teen comedy – but for reasons of no explanation broke all the humorous tension it created by introducing a cartoon element that was out of place and out of keeping with everything else. It breaks the scene because it’s so obviously out of context. And just as I was getting into it, letting my foot start to tap and my fingers start to click and the laughing smile start to rise it forced my mind to instantly question “Really…?” and it was such a shame.

(500) Days Of Summer is very much a middle of the road film. In not very good but it’s also totally inoffensive. It’s cold and distant and seems to fail to really know exactly what genre it meant to be. I can’t tell you if it’s a straight rom-com, dark love story or teenage angst. Nothing quite sums it up properly, and in the end, it just feels like a film that exists for no reason at all. And this meant I never knew whether the film wanted me to take it seriously, laugh with it, at it or just give up on it totally. It’s not engaging and it doesn’t feel real. It just sort of washes over you and is forgotten as quickly as it began. But I also feel that the film doesn’t somehow mind that, that it’s not overly bothered what you think about it, or about anything. It’s not aiming high and it is was it is.

6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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