You know those rare but incredibly satisfying moments you get when you think you’ve figured something out that most people haven’t? They’re great. Last I had was in the cinema whilst watching 500 Days. It struck me as odd that there was more desire from the male contingent of our group to watch this movie instead of the female (admittedly she was outnumbered three to one), and that wasn’t just because we wanted to lust after Zooey Deschanel for an hour and a half. The film itself isn’t your standard rom-com affair; its tagline is “Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn’t.” It’s quirky, sharply written, brutally honest, told from the perspective of a romantically intense young man and it’s a thoughtful, sometimes moving experience. It’ll make you think, it’ll make you laugh, it’s definitely romantic and it looks cool. Wait a minute……it’s a romantic comedy for dudes! Awesome.
In all honesty, 500 Days does seem like it’s billed slightly more towards males perhaps a little too in tune with their feelings who fall head over heels with girls who just doesn’t feel the same. Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works for a greeting card company and falls instantly in love with the new secretary Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). They seem to share similar interests and clearly have a spark. Tom cannot get Summer from his mind, obsessing over her every action and word before the inevitable eventually happens and they get it together in the copy room. Summer doesn’t believe in true love, and as they spend more time together and their relationship develops, she hesitates to ‘label’ what they have, which as we all know is another way of saying she isn’t sure about being with Tom. They remain happy up to a point, but as ever, it really starts getting interesting when things start going wrong.
The plot actually develops brilliantly, going back and forth to different points in the 500 days that Tom and Summer know each other. We see scenes from the beginning of their relationship, the good parts, the bad, the upsetting conclusion and Tom’s reaction to it, but in a random order. It’s not exactly a new cinematic idea, but it’s used to great effect here as we get to see the unflinchingly bad parts of a relationship early on, followed by how Tom and Summer got like that.
As mentioned, 500 Days follows Tom around absolutely, and we never see Summer on her own. As good as Gordon-Levitt is as Tom, presenting his lovelorn state and his huge love for Summer without going too far overboard, it’d be great to see Summer’s reactions to the really bad times instead of just Tom’s. Then again, the relationship between the two of them will hit extremely close to home for a lot of people watching the film, so a chance to view the really difficult parts of a relationship from the perspective of the person more into the other, or the ‘victim’, if you will, will strike a chord with many people.
500 Days is a damn good movie, extremely honest in its portayal of an exciting relationship hitting the skids and the fallout from it. Deschanel is an evil, beautiful genius of a woman, Gordon-Levitt is a naive, loving man and his reactions to everything that happens to him with Summer are spot on to the point of being stupidly accurate. There are laughs in this film thanks to a small but great supporting cast, and there are as many sad moments to go along with the happy ones, including a stunningly moving scene where Tom’s expectations and contrasting reality are shown side by side in a later meeting with Summer.
It’s not perfect; an annoying, deep voice-over adds nothing to proceedings as almost everything it tells us could be figured out because of how good Tom and Summer portray their feelings. A docummentary style scene and song-and-dance routine after Tom finally gets lucky certainly take away from the rest of the movie. Still, in the same vein of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science Of Sleep and this year’s Away We Go, 500 Days is another imaginative, honest and jilted take on love with indie quirkiness that you don’t have to feel ashamed to watch. You’ll probably like it more if you’re a hopeless romantic, male or (heaven forbid) both, but anyone with an old story of unrequited love will find something to call their own in 500 Days. Just be prepared to be thinking of your own love story for a good few hours after you’ve watched it.