Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reviews: 500 Days of Summer

Just when I’ve lost my faith in romantic comedies, Marc Webb’s “500 Days of Summer” comes along and singularly redeems the genre. What’s not to love about this film? IT IIIIIS lovable. You got that big scoop of wonderful named Zooey Deschannel in her Golden Age of Hotness. Then there's Joseph Gordon- Levitt (who was smashing in "Brick", by the way) looking like the cooler younger brother of Heath Ledger.

It has a delightfully poignant story that charms you and leaves you hugging yourself. Plot is simple enough: Boy and Girl hooks up then breaks up. Boy reflects back on their brief relationship and hops around between the good and bad times.

And then there’s THE music. Yes, the caps-lock is intentional. People who read me well know that I’m a sucker for pop films – those rare pieces of modern cinema that features an atmospheric use of pop songs. “Almost Famous” is one. “Garden State” is another. “500 Days..” completes the trio.

You can probably tell by now that I'll be singing hossanas to this movie but you should've seen me inside the theatre. I was frothing in the mouth.

The film opens with a funny disclaimer (the one that ends with “Bitch") and sets its achronological narrative with Regina Spektor’s “Us”. We are then introduced to Tom Hansen (Gordon-Levitt), a hopeless romantic convinced that he’s found the girl of his dreams in Summer Finn (Deschanel) the first time he sees her at his workplace. Problem is, Summer is a pragmatic tease and a commitment-phobe. And she's not the type to subscribe in the idea of "love", no sir, she likes Tom but she wants them to be friends. But anyway, somewhere between Day 1 and Day 500, he still gets to win her. And bed her.

The film then inventively charts the couple's descent to heartbreak with lots of witty dialogue and slick visual gags (the splitscreen! the splitscreen!). All the while, we are treated to a string of pop songs that are just pure gold: "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" by The Smiths, "Bookends" by Art and Garfunkel, and "Veni Vidi Vici" by The Black Lips. When I heard the strings of Carla Bruni's "Quelqu'un ma dit", I exploded in spasms of joy.

The love affair with pop culture doesn't stop there: there's a nod to Mike Nichols' "The Graduate", a reference to Rene Magritte's works and a wink at JD Salinger (Bananafish!). In one of the film's brightest moments, Gordon-Levitt does a funky Astaire to a Hall & Oates number. With all its showiness, Gordon-Levitt and Deschannel still both manage to stay afloat and deliver realistic and sensitive performances.

By the film's end, I have already edified it in my heart. Let me have my pa-feeling authority declaration: this generation just got their "An Affair To Remember". Their "Annie Hall". Their "Love Story". A movie that so exactingly captures a whole era's romantic sensibility and its quirks. My God, in one scene, Tom and Rachel discusses love while playing Wii! This is just too much goodness in one movie.

Rating: 5 big fat stars (as fat as Kirstie Alley in Fat Actress)

1 comment:

  1. i can't get enough of this movie. i just don't want what happened to them to happen to me. i love the costumes. i think one of the main attraction of this movie are the clothes summer wore. i dream of wearing that blue poufy dress she wore in the wedding. oh my that is such a smashing dress! plus the movie made downtown l.a. look magical. i always head west of sunset when in l.a. but this movie makes me think of heading east to check out that park bench in pershing square. within the red line of the mta subway.


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