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Tue July 21, 2009
(500) Days of Summer
It's about time . . .
By John DeSando, WCBE's "It's Movie Time," "Cinema Classics," and "On the Marquee"
"This is not a love story. This is a story about love." Narrator
Because I've been in love more than once, and not always successfully, I'm grateful for the dose of reality that underpins (500) Days of Summer?a romantic comedy hitting the common-sense chord regularly and sweetly. Despite the above narrator's disclaimer, this is a love story that takes a different path than the usual romcom, and it does discourse about love as it depicts lovers in battle.
The two leads, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom and indie favorite Zooey Deschanel as Summer, are as cute as could possibly be, playing young lovers who look as if they were meant to be together?but wait, I get ahead of myself.
From the get-go, Tom is not in the power position because Summer is forthright that she does not want a boyfriend or a relationship. What she actually wants is not fully disclosed, a lack of transparency when this almost two hander doesn't disclose her motivation to avoid romantic entanglement, a philosophy that doesn't appear in the denouement. Tom's depressing job as a writer of vapid greeting cards reinforces the dead-end doom of lyrical love.
As romantic comedies go, this is a cut above this summer's fare (remember My Life in Ruins): the "buddies" are not slackers although one is a bit of an airhead; the challenges are credible; and most of all, the expectations for a regular comedy to end well are not met. In short, the romance is troubled from the beginning because of Summer's unusual attitudes about freedom and Tom's unwillingness to face up to the reality that the one woman in his life may not be the right one.
Throughout the film we are reminded of time, specifically the 500 days, by regular notices about what day of the relationship the next scene is in. The jumble of time works because we know when the scene is set, regardless of whether or not the story is linear.
Toward the end, a philosophy about fate is offered as an antidote to the confusions of love; it's about time someone asserted that love may not be ordained by fate.
"Amor vincit omnia."
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, Cinema Classics, and On the Marquee, which can be heard streaming at http://publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/ppr/index.shtml and on demand at http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wcbe/arts.artsmain Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com