jackson's Review of 500 Days of Summer
500 Days of Summer(2009)
"This isn't a love story, but a story about love." A quote from the ominous narrator that begins Marc Webb's refreshing and eccentric perception on the-now-generic Rom-Com sub-genre. Presenting a film that doesn't let itself be degraded by the popular clichés, but rather encapsulates the mythologies of the generic love story and rips it apart to present - most importantly - a refreshing, realistic and predominate tale of love.
The narrative follows two conflicting beliefs: first, we have the young Tom (Levitt) who believes in the generic notions of love. Secondly, we have Summer (Deschanel), a young woman who rejects the generic notions and claims that 'true love' does not exist. As you could imagine, Tom is the one who falls for Summer, and through their straining beliefs, both are perpetuated into a field of emotion. Upon immediate appearance, it's quite obvious to gather that "500 Days of Summer" is your above-average effort within the repetitive genre. Thankfully, through the films introduction (not mention Tom's hilarious/depressing state), there seems to be no genre blue-print; no archetypal state, but rather an innovative, and impressive aesthetics appreciation towards the films narrative structure - Within a non-linear structure, we are presented with a film that is told through the past, present and future (without losing itself within the middle).
As the story progresses, Tom and Summer divine interests come together at the workplace (A substantial card factory, and you know what they about work-based relations). It's quite impressive to watch a romance that attempts to accumulate plot elements that never seem superfluous, but rather contain meaning - and dare I say metaphorical resonance? Yes, this is what Webb's film has achieved. For instance, consider the previous mentioned workplace where the two central characters meet. In most Rom-Com's (well contemporary ones anyway), the natural or urbanized landscapes and activities that are performed in these locations are simply locations for the back-drop of the characters. However, in "500," the work-place contributes to characters central ideologies: Being a card-factory, it's obvious that Tom's notions of love have been contributed from the perceptions of Pop-culture, - the ideas of faith and 'Soul Mates' - while Summer's perception on love are grounded in realistic fashion rather than influenced by the clichés. As for my previous statement of " metaphorical resonance," Webb's efforts and Tom's job function as metaphor for all the love cliches that society continually absorbs (along with Tom's heartbreaking speech) and "500" stands as and realistic triumphant over the cliché ridden bull-shit.
As stated, with these two separate characters sharing different and various traits towards the notions of love, "500" creates a profound, brilliant and continuous juxtaposition between two separate perceptions of love: the idealistic and the realistic. For example, consider a sequence that occurs later on in the film after Summer and Tom have separated. After countless efforts at winning Summer back, Tom becomes a recluse; a life riddled with depression. Finally, Summer invites Tom to get-together at her new apartment, to which Tom assumes that the situation is the perfect opportunity to regain the love that Summer once shared. Upon Tom's arrival, the current frame is split into two separate parallel sequences (think any Tarantino film), one projecting a perception of reality, the other viewing idealistic
expectations. A juxtapositions that brilliantly captures a moment that contains internal resonance: hoping, and hoping greatly - with the accompany of divine intervention that seems to be contained in most Rom-Com's - that the women that you once loved ('Love' may be an abstract entity, but everyone has engaged with it, whatever the actual entity may be) will miraculously return to the comforts of your arms. But they don't and they won't, because Reality, or the eventuality of Reality will always win. Dare I say: many of the innovative techniques used within "500" evoke Woody Allen aesthetics.
Additionally, with containing as much style as substance, "500" displays the epitome of how execute direct homages. Namely, the use of "The Graduate" and Ingram Bergman to express Webb's thematics. Thankfully, Webb's homages do not only function as a gimmick or an expresses use of displaying the directors cinema-pedia, but further fuel and enhancement to characters internal perspectives and emotions. Consider the various scenes: Tom and Summer's are watching "The Graduate" in the theaters. Upon finishing and similar to the films ending, Summer is left in a melancholic state. Following in similar sweeps to "The Graduate" conclusion - as the film finale identified if the abstract emotions of love where worth to purse - Summer obviously identifies and shares a similar emotional state; she's realizes whatever her and Tom shared (with Tom still containing genuine emotion), has most certaintly became redundant for her. Secondly, the other homage consist of the great Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal." A film that deals with notions that revolve around poignancy, great depression and the entity that all humans fear: death. While the notions of death may be an extremity, the films homage purpose still serves as an appropriate comparison to Tom's internal state.
Personally, the reason I regard "500" with such pride is because (subjectively) it captures the essence of the abstract notions that revolve around 'love.' A notion that has gained its existence through many artificial methods. Within Tom and Summer's final conversation, they highlight the evasiveness of love and it's unpredictably motives - which contemporary romances rarely achieve. Finally a Rom-Com that depicts love with a funny, but most importantly realistic fashion through its off-beat environment.