(500) Days of Summer is my favourite film. Of all time. It is ingenious and feels so very real. The characters are three dimensional, you see them at there best and worst. Literally. You know them. Inside out. It is clever, witty, deadpan and honest about life and whenever I watch it, I don’t feel disillusioned, in fact this anti rom-com does the opposite. I feel more positive and hopeful. It’s reassuring to see life portrayed normally because every day life isn’t always romantic or happy and it takes longer than 2 hours to reach a perfect conclusion and to find love. It is beautiful, clever, witty, sad and poignant. Most importantly it is truthful and bitter sweet. Pumped full of cinematic mastery, a flickering timeline spanning across the 500 Days that Tom and Summer’s encounter lasted; it is utterly superb.
So often I go to the cinema to see another Rom-com (a welcome break from reality, don’t get me wrong) but I know exactly what’s going to happen in every single one. Boy meets girl, boy and girl conveniently both like-like each other – I mean how often does that happen in real life? – some dramatic secret is revealed or something cataclysmal occurs; they temporarily fall out, move out, call of a wedding, leave in the dead of night. And then just before the film is over, they bump into each other in the street, or he starts singing outside her window begging for forgiveness, both happen to be single, both missing each other and before you can say that Bob is your uncle, they’re kissing and after the initial role of credits there are pictures of them in wedding attire, followed by a snapshot of them in a hospital clasping a baby. PREDICTABLE.
But this cinematic masterpiece, is so very different, in fact the audience is warned before the film starts about the differences between Summer and Tom.
‘This is a story of boy meets girl. The boy, Tom Hansen…grew up believing that he’d never truly be happy until the day he met, the one. This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad British pop music and a total misreading of the movie, The Graduate. The girl, Summer Finn…did not share this belief. Since the disintegration of her parents marriage, she’d only loved two things. The first was her long dark hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off and feel nothing. Tom meets summer on January 8th, he knows almost immediately, she’s who he’s been searching for. This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know up front, this is not a love story.’ – (500) Days of Summer, opening scene.
There may not be the stereotypical, tired, but desirable happy ending that is so often churned out in this genre of film but there is most certainly a message of hope. That time is a healer and life is full of seasons. And Autumn comes after Summer.
Plus it has a superb soundtrack. Quite often I discover music that I love through film and adverts that I wouldn’t have normally heard at all. The Lumineers are a prime example of this and were an absolutely delightful discovery when I was randomly deciding on a channel to settle on. (500) Days reminds me of older films and maybe that’s because of the sounds of Hall and Oates, Simon and Garfunkel and the Smiths. Maybe that’s what gives it that slightly retro edge.
But I think the reason that I really love it, is that it’s so refreshing that the guy is the one in search of a relationship, the guy is the one who is obsessed with finding the one; for once it isn’t the other way around. It also incredibly funny, subtle but full of comedy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt does an incredible job as Tom and I really felt for him as a character. Not to mention that he is exceptionally cute and well meaning.
The heart is depicted as fickle. Because as humans we are fickle. And in the words of the wise Miss Taylor Swift, ‘People are people and some times we change our minds.’ Except Summer doesn’t change her mind, she tells Tom from the outset that she doesn’t want anything serious and he smiles blithely and accepts it because he loves Summer, with her sunny and warm disposition, her blue sky eyes and her 1960s haircut. Deep down he hopes he can change her, change her mind and her perspective of love. But what ends up changing is him. The heartbreak he endures reminds him that he is alive, that he has dreams and aspirations; ambition. So he quits his job and pursues his dream and starts becoming the architect he studied to be. And that my friends, is encouraging. He sorts himself out, once the initial sting of rejection has subsided. On the other hand Summer changes too, she learns that love does exist and that Tom was right the whole time, it isn’t fantasy but reality. I suppose they swap beliefs. Tom is a little less naive and a little more jaded about love and to be honest he is better for it. And Summer, well, she stops being an aloof idiot and gets engaged, so something momentous has shifted for her. This entire film is a battle between expectation and reality and shows that a balance between the two is what will lead to happiness.
It also underlines the truth that relationships are not easy and if they aren’t balanced then they can’t work. Or won’t work. For very long.
And it is full of sehr amusing lines like this; ‘Roses are red, Violets are blue, f**k you, whore.’ – Tom Hansen, (500) Days of Summer. Tom Hansen, I might add has a job writing greetings cards.
So watch this film. If it’s the last thing you do. And enjoy the below sample of the films delicious soundtrack.