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Movie Review: (500) Days of Summer

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Being confined to a small town since the early days of my childhood, I found it easy to be drawn to things of the big city. Of the many attractions in Dallas, the Angelika Film Center is quite possibly my favorite. So, after seeing the trailer for Marc Webb’s (500) Days of Summer and finding out the movie was playing at the Angelika, two friends and I sped off to the DFW on a hot July night, only to find ourselves slightly disappointed.

The plot of (500) Days, like the title itself, is quite deceiving, claiming that it “is not a love story.” Quite to the contrary, (500) Days seems to be an extremely lavish romantic comedy. Though the film has a unique approach to love, it is not for those who believe in the idea of fated romance.

The couple, Summer and Tom (played by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt), meet ever so fatefully at their card company jobs, and develop a typical office relationship. Summer warns Tom early on that she does not want a relationship, while Tom simultaneously falls head over heels for her. The film portrays many cute relationship activities, like a karaoke bar scene, but the script lacks a certain appeal, dismissing lovers’ everyday conversations.

While I felt sorry for and sympathized with Tom, I also felt empathy for the cold-hearted Summer. The film makes clear that she intends not to hurt him from the beginning, with a warning, and that he traps himself inside a wormhole of emotion. Tom appears pathetic, doing anything he can to win Summer back, while she becomes involved elsewhere.

(500) Days proves that love is not always the answer, and that two people can't always share the exact same sentiment toward each other at the same time. The movie highlights only one situation of love, boy falling for an unattainable goal, and describes the way that no one ever falls the exactly same way for anyone else. The closing of (500) Days, though not completely expected, is the giveaway to the trailer's claim that it's "not a love story."

The psychological concept that relationships are cyclical deters the overall theme of (500) Days. The meaning of the story is a little hazy, but it has good intentions for “not being a love story.” The script seems to lack a certain quality of real life, without sentiment, and has an extremely jumpy storyline between the real and the imaginary. I applaud only Deschanel’s performance because of its opposition to her normal character — mostly a kindhearted and naive sweetheart.

The visual aspects of the film, with bright colors and sunshine in abundance, and the music add to the quality of (500) Days. One scene, depicting Tom's happy-go-lucky attitude after a night with Summer, uses blue and turquoise hues and Hall and Oates' “You Make My Dreams Come True” to express his innate happiness. I bought the soundtrack on iTunes immediately after returning home.

Fans of How to Deal, Love, Actually, and P.S. I Love You will appreciate (500) Days of Summer for its one-of-a-kind approach toward relationships in the making. However, I would not recommend the film to anyone who has any doubts about their own relationship, or those who see fate as a way to find a person to spend the rest of their life with. After all, nothing lasts forever.

About Courtney Murphy