D: Marc Webb. DP: Eric Steelberg. W: Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber. Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Zooey Deschanel/Geoffrey Arend/Chloe Moretz/Matthew Gray Gubler/Clark Gregg/Rachel Boston/Minka Kelly.
At last, my love has come along…
The quirky chemistry between Deschanel’s Summer and Gordon-Levitt’s Tom is infectious, as they are able to capture what so many romantic-comedy genre film stars cannot. And that is a palpable sense of personality compatibility that overshadows and oftentimes enhances their physical attraction. An attraction, with the audience made of aware of this from the beginning, that is doomed. But despite this theme of love and loss, the couple drives the film with the help of Gordon-Levitt’s hapless friends and soccer wielding little sister (Moretz) who is somehow, despite being about twelve, able to dispense the best advice. Yet it is the couple that shine, equally in fact, letting (500) Days of Summer be so much more than its premise.
Of course, this is also due to a fresh and vibrant script from Neustadter and Weber, who pull the audience back and forth in time within the couple’s romance. This clever structuring allows us to see the romance blossom, while also seeing Gordon-Levitt’s unraveling at its break up and attempted re-evaluation of his current path. Not only does this structure shake typical genre notions, but it serves as an illustration of Gordon-Levitt’s fixation on the positive memories of the coupling. So that rather than letting go or figuring out what went wrong, he soporifically yearns for that which has been, losing himself in a haze of the past. And although this might not be anything necessarily new, somehow the way (500) Days of Summer recharges and redesigns things feels positively innovative.
And part of the film’s innovation is not just the written structure of the story, but the synthesis of the soundtrack and editing by Alan Edward Bell. Bell, with contribution from Weber, is able to give (500) Days of Summer a frolicking pace that creates moments, without losing its consistent appeal. An appeal that lends itself to the use of footage made to look older or vintage and the subtle use of a narrator (actually more like a story teller) who reminds the audience to not forget that when boy meets girl, all is not always happiness. And lastly, Bell’s use of hard cuts gives a beat to the back and forth in time structure and allows the use of quick and then longer scenes to not feel off-kilter.
The only thing actually off-kilter is the lack of development of other characters. We never see the couple hanging out amidst friends with Deschanel appearing to not have any as besides being at work or with Gordon-Levitt. But honestly, do we care? This being Weber’s directorial debut, I am mightily impressed and interested to see what is next on his plate. And I only ask that is also include a dancing, no dialouge, sequence to Hall & Oats’ You Make My Dreams and that is exudes as much charm as (500) Days of Summer so that it is difficult to rememeber what you didn’t like, but hard to forget what you did enjoy.