(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Last week I watched (500) Days of Summer. I’ve heard a lot about this, and everyone around me seemed to adore the movie. I remember wanting to see it when it came out, but I never got around to it. Now I finally did. And I was a bit underwhelmed.

Maybe it’s because I had seen almost all of the first third of the movie in previews and review shows. Maybe it’s because although I think Zooey Deschanel is cute, I don’t think she’s the most attractive and endearing girl in the universe like some people do. I don’t know.

I enjoyed some of the aspects of the movie. The framing device is of course very cool and interesting. I love when movies aren’t chronological, and this is no exception. It provides a perfect means of comparing different points in a relationship. Other specific points that I heartily enjoyed were the music and dance sequence in the park, and the expectations vs. reality side-by-side part. These were all really interesting and captivated me for their entire duration.

But somewhere near the beginning of this movie, I was removed from a loving standpoint. This is an “Indie” style movie, not only in means of its production but also its genre. It’s true that “Indie” has taken a certain connotation now that stands separate from the related grouping of “independent” movies. They’re movies like Juno, where there’s indie music heavily featured, quirky characters who speak quirkily, and lots of drawn title cards and frames.

I’m not a fan of typical indie dialogue. It’s almost like it’s trying too hard to be unique and witty, and I feel like it ends up being very unnatural. That’s one of the major turn-off points of this movie for me. Even though my current relationship had some very strong parallels to the beginning of the filmic one, I just couldn’t believe that people behaved and talked this way. Maybe I don’t have cool, indie enough friends. Truth is, maybe I don’t want to.

I also wasn’t a fan of Deschanel’s Summer character. She just seemed cold and aloof, and I couldn’t see why Joseph Gordon-Levitt was so infatuated with her. Gordon-Levitt, by the way, does do a great job. He’s a strong leading actor that shows he can carry a movie, and he brings a nice breath of fresh air to a romantic comedy with an emotional yet grounded and reliable character.

In the end, I probably would have enjoyed this movie a lot more had I not seen so much of it before actually seeing the movie. Because of my pre-exposure to it, I ended up feeling like the dialogue was weak, and characters like Summer and the younger sister were just annoying. It still has a good story, a strong framing device, and enough cinematic tricks to keep you interested the entire duration, however. I just wish I could have loved it as much as everyone else did.

Final rating: 6/10

–James A. Janisse


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