(95) Minutes of Wonderful
The toughest part of summer movie season is choosing which movies to wait for on DVD and which to spend obscene amounts of cash on to see in the theater. Mark your calendars for July 17. In fact, keep that day free. Entirely. Fox Searchlight’s “(500) Days of Summer” hits theaters that day.
“Summer” is penned by — get this, Pink Panther 2 scribes — Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber and directed by Marc Webb. The film is about greeting card writer Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who meets Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) at his job.
Naturally, Tom falls in love with Summer, but Summer doesn’t believe in true love. The film follows the ups and downs of their relationship. The film is played out through tiny vignettes throughout the 500 days the film is set, though, not in order. Each transition to another day during the relationship shows painterly title cards, each showing a landscape with weather depicting the stature of the pair’s relationship.
One scene can be laugh out loud funny and, a few seconds later, heart wrenching. There is an impeccable use of magic realism, particularly in a scene where Levitt’s character leads a dance number to Hall & Oates “You Make My Dreams” throughout the city of Los Angeles, after he and Summer sleep together for the first time.
Another scene pits Tom’s expectations and realities against each other (via a split screen effect) when he goes to a party at Summer’s apartment. These two things, the narrator points out, rarely line up. That particular scene holds one of the biggest reveals of the film, and is executed perfectly.
This film captures the feeling of being a hopeless romantic perfectly. In the first few weeks of him even knowing Summer, Tom comes to the conclusion that he will never date Summer. He says to his friends Paul (Matthew Gray Gubler) and McKenzie (Geoffrey Arend), “being lonely is underrated.” It speaks to, in essence, the irrationality of hopelessness.
Oh, and one more thing, the soundtrack is as part of the film as the main characters are. Many scenes’ are elevated by the music, but doesn’t force an emotion on the viewer.
“(500) Days of Summer” is an enjoyable, hilarious flick that bends and breaks the conventions of romantic comedies. They might as well have named it “95 Minutes of Wonderful.” And it will easily take the crown of best film of 2009 so far.
This post was submitted by Jeremy Stanley.