(500) Days of Summer (2009)
A hard pill to swallow for many but people who complain about being “friend-zoned” actually deserve to be friend-zoned. You can simply take a look around and you will easily find these forever-alone souls, especially guys who walk around with their “nice guy” tags to keep assuring themselves that they are the nicest people out there and who actually believe that it is an obligation for any girl they happen to have a borderline-psychotic crush on to love them back because a failure to reciprocate the same feeling ultimately results in her being termed a “bitch”.
The term “friend-zone” itself implies that a woman’s feelings don’t have to matter. If a guy has a massive crush on a girl, then he expect her to give him a chance even if she doesn’t feel a thing for him. In fact, she may not even be interested in the first place. Expecting a girl to love you back just because you think you are a nice guy is incredibly lame & stupid but most follow this half-assed philosophy of love and when things fail to work out, they tend to blame that same crush for ruining their lives.
(500) Days of Summer makes it very clear in its opening note that all its writer intends to do here is to take out the frustration of his failed relationship for a total of 95 minutes before wising up in the final moments. And it works because people with broken hearts are wired to instantly latch on to anything that reminds them of their own relationship predicament and instead of observing the shortcomings of the protagonist, they keep looking for the faults in the one who stabbed the heart. This whole story is a one-sided perspective on love, expectations & relationship dynamics.
Chronicling the events in a non-linear fashion, (500) Days of Summer tells the story of Tom Hansen, a trained architect working as a greetings card writer who’s recounting the broken memories of his failed relationship with Summer Finn, the girl of his dreams who dumped him one day in an abrupt manner. The plot keeps jumping from one random day to another and shows the progression of their relationship as well as the subsequent depression that Tom undergoes after the break-up, and concludes with him moving on to a better future.
Directed by Marc Webb in what is his feature film debut, the way (500) Days of Summer is narrated is far more refreshing than the story it packs in. The film is an honest depiction of the kind of thoughts that surface in mind when one is making their way into a relationship or recovering from a bad break-up but it’s the film’s clever structure, bright colour palette, hilarious moments, dynamic editing, splendid camerawork & fine use of songs that make it an enjoyable experience and for the most part, it does quite well on the expectation vs reality graph.
Coming to the performances, Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Zooey Deschanel are supposed to play the sorry guy & the heartless bitch respectively and both of them do a neat job at it. Gordon-Levitt is wholly committed to his character Tom Hansen, the hopeless romantic whose life is turned upside down by the girl he’s in love with. Deschanel plays Summer who doesn’t believe in the existence of true love but does grow closer to Tom until she suddenly breaks up with him one day. It is rather easy to call Summer a bitch for what she did to Tom but she is a version of Tom’s memory & is intended to be seen that way.
On an overall scale, (500) Days of Summer has its highs n lows just like any relationship but it still manages to be an interesting sit, thanks to its confident direction, excellent performances & offbeat storyline that brims with fresh energy, plenty of charm & kinetic flair. A story about love as seen from the eyes of an immature guy who fails to grasp the fact that it is he who’s the real architect of all his miseries and not the girl who left him, (500) Days of Summer may not find any place amongst the formulaic examples of its genre(s) but it isn’t that different either, for what separates it is the tenderness & intellect present in the film’s execution rather than the guy-centric content it packs in.