Unexpected Pleasure: (500) Days of Summer
Review #1 (for purists and those who have come to trust me)
See this movie! You will laugh. You will cry. It is brilliant.
Review #2 (for those who don’t mind a few minor spoilers)
Pauline Kael told Richard Kramer: “And above all else — know what you find in ‘Charade’ is just as valuable, if not more so, than in ‘The Seventh Seal.’” (1)
She was so very right. Latest evidence for this: (500) Days of Summer.
It’s a boy meets girl story . . . with a beautiful twist. Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works as a writer for a greeting card company in Los Angeles. He falls for Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and they become involved romantically.
Without the suggestion by my friend Max that I see this movie, I would have assumed it was of no consequence. Instead it is a real beauty—a film of great intelligence.
It is truly hilarious. I have not laughed this much and this completely in quite a while. For example Tom—in despair over Summer—is at a convenience store. He first places a carton of orange juice in front of the cashier. Then he puts down a bottle of bourbon. Then he fills his hands with Twinkies and drops them onto the counter. Tom looks at the cashier as if to say “hey don’t give me trouble” and the cashier—a kindly Asian man—gives him a look of gentle concern. I cannot do justice to this with just words but I was laughing so hard I had to stop the film.
At the same time (500) Days of Summer does not make light of the very real heartache we have from not getting the girl we think we want.
Bravo to Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber for their brilliant screenplay.
Bravo to all the actors for their wonderful performances.
Mark Webb directs with a light touch that is just right—whether the scenes are funny or serious.
Great attention is given to every detail and I often found myself asking “How did they think of that?” What a pleasure! Special credit should be given to art director Charles Varga, production designer Laura Fox, and cinematographer Eric Steelberg.
I could give dozens of examples of this creativity and inventiveness. Here is one—a scene in which we see simultaneously Tom’s expectations side by side with what actually happens:
(500) Days of Summer is filled with heart—not manufactured greeting-card heart but real heart—and reminds me of two quotes:
“Extreme happiness only separated from extreme despair by a trembling leaf—isn’t this life?”
—Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve
“For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.”
—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
See this film!
(500) Days of Summer: A-
(1) Pauline Kael Was My Mentor by Richard Kramer
© Richard Hobby