by Katherine Tobin
‘This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront… This is not a love story’
500 Days of Summer is an untraditional romantic comedy which follows a young greeting-card writer, Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon Levitt) and the semi-titular Summer Finn (Zooey Deschannel) through the course of their relationship. Despite immediately sounding like your classic rom-com, this is a film which sets out to completely reinvent the audience’s perceptions of love and the generalised beliefs associated with it; it has become one of my all-time favourite films, one of very few which effectively balance comedy and drama and I enjoy watching it today as much as I did the first time.
It is important to note that that this film takes some adjusting to; there is no traditional chronological sequence to be seen here, rather we see scenes from earlier and later in their relationship side by side. Creating an air of mystery, this fresh directorial choice is one that really defines a style for the film and often juxtaposes hugely positive and negative moments against each other seamlessly.
I also enjoy the casting of this film, how well the actors fit into their roles. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom with apparent ease, particularly aiding the humorous aspect of the film. Zooey Deschannel as Summer was also perfectly cast, as only she could bring the streak of childishness that so defines her character, which is essential as we see her mature throughout the film. As these actors were relatively unknown at the time, the casting also added to the ‘kookiness’ of the film, making it truly a piece of indie cinema.I cannot talk about this film without bringing up the soundtrack, not only does it hugely enhance the film, but plays a significant part in the overall experience. Shortly after seeing this film around the fourth time, I bought the soundtrack and can honestly say it’s grown on me to the point where it’s one of my favourite albums. The eclectic mix of anything from Garfunkel to The Smiths suits the creative and original nature of the film perfectly. Personally I believe this film is really, genuinely great, as it has the perfect balance of excellent acting, great music and a truly ground-breaking storyline and film structure.
This article was originally published in Portsmouth Point's 'Fight Club' issue, in July 2013.