Sunday, 24 April 2011

(500) Days of Summer

So, Kari's back to sleeping on her own, in her own bed. I kinda made a fuss about it - jokes about clinginess, jabs about "moving in together" - but I actually kind of miss her. I know this sounds bad, but I liked that she needed me. I'm glad she's getting better though (although her getting involved in the investigation the way she is is WAY too dangerous).

Anyway, last week, we rented out a movie. We expected it to be a typical indie romcom; quirky, offbeat, and probably not as intelligent as it thinks it is (see: Youth In Revolt) but instead we got a remarkable deconstruction of romance fiction, the Mary Sue, and of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl idea. (500) Days of Summer is the story of Tom Hansen, and his obsession with emotionally unavailable Summer Finn, and proceeds as a non-linear sequence of notable days in their relationship. The movie's structure being told in such a jumbled fashion allows for fascinating storytelling turns, Joseph Gordon Levitt returns as my leading man-crush (He's actually better in this than in Brick!), and the movie is absolutely worth whatever you have to pay to see it. Go do so, then read the rest of this - otherwise, just skip to "SPOLERS OVER". SPOILERS AHEAD.

The best thing about (500) Days of Summer is that it doesn't bullshit us. This actually tuned off a lot of people I know who honestly wanted the bullshit, but this movie isn't concerned with this. The emotionally immature, over-romantic protagonist, who'd be the Mary Sue author avatar in any other work, is here presented as a flawed person. At no point does he try to engage Summer as anything other than a symbol representing his perfect woman. Indeed, the most important line in the film, and one which sums up Tom's problem, is his friend's line during the interview sequence: "Robyn's better than the girl of my dreams. 'Cause she's real." And his inability to grasp this is what causes his eventual heartbreak. They were never right for each other, and the film won't just stick them together because "They're the romantic leads, it's what we do!" It didn't surprise me to find out that this film was based on an actual relationship, heartbreak, and accompanying revelation, because it possesses an honesty and a brutal reality (think the heartbreaking "Expectations vs. Reality" scene) which most indie romcoms avert, instead putting the author avatar with the vague representation of the girl who got away.


Of course another thing to be aware of is that this movie is frequently hilarious, well acted, stunningly written and brilliantly put together piece of cinema. Chloe Moretz continues to be far and away the best under-18 actor in Hollywood, Zooey Deschanel continues to be the knit-cap-owner's alternative to Katy Perry, for what that's worth, and the whole thing comes off as the best, most refreshing and by far most intelligent romantic comedy since Annie Hall back in the 70s. A must-see.

1 comment:

  1. Well that first bit's almost cute in an...overbearing kind of way. And if you really want, I'm sure we can find some reason to share a bed every so often :P

    Also, with the review, how did you not talk about how the sequence of scenes recalls fragments of memory, or how the use of multiple forms of film are used to compliment and enrich the story structure?

    Yeah. Two can play that game.