August 7, 2009 in Features

‘(500) Days’ takes inventive approach on old theme

Christy Lemire Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon- Levitt star in “(500) Days of Summer.”
(Full-size photo)

Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy tries to win girl back: It’s a tale you’ve heard a million times before.

But it’s told in such a relatable, inventive way in “(500) Days of Summer,” it almost feels like the first time.

It is the first time for director Marc Webb, who puts his music video and commercial background to good use with stylish tactics that are lively – a cheeky dance sequence, perfect song choices, a clever use of split screen – but never feel gratuitous.

By jumping back and forth in time between Day 500, Day 1 and everywhere in between, the structure also creates a feeling of curiosity throughout; we know this relationship is doomed, we just don’t know how it falls apart.

We watch it all unfold with bemusement and dread through the lovelorn eyes of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Tom Hansen, a would-be architect toiling away at a greeting card company.

Tom thinks he’s found the perfect woman in Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), his boss’ beautiful new assistant who’s just arrived in Los Angeles. One look at those big, blue eyes and he’s instantly smitten.

“(500) Days of Summer” allows Tom to regale us with memories of this life-altering romance – and because they’re told entirely from his perspective, they’re more than a little romanticized in both the highs and lows. But that’s part of the film’s charm: the spot-on observation that everything seems magnified and it matters more when it’s happening to us.

Why Summer turns suddenly cold is baffling to Tom, and to us; she told him at the start that she didn’t want anything serious, but it all seemed to be going so well.

Then again, she’s meant to be an elusive concept. Like the season she’s named for, she clearly can’t stick around forever.

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