Tuesday, November 10, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

Film Title: (500) Days of Summer
Director: Marc Webb
Running Time: 95 minutes

You've been warned right at the start of the film that this is not a love story. Well, at least, it's not a CONVENTIONAL love story. So if you're going in thinking this is one of those boy meets girl, boy dates girl, boy gets girl kinda story, think again. In fact, the writers and director would have you dispel any such notion with their hilarious disclaimer right at the start of the film: "Any resemblance to people living or dead is purely accidental ... Especially you, Jenny Beckman ... Bitch." (Apparently, the storyline was based on the real-life experience of screenwriter Scott Neustadter, back in 2002 when he met a girl whom he fell "crazily, madly, hopelessly in love" with, who "returned his kisses but not his ardor." Their "painfully and unforgettably awful" break-up later prompted him to co-write this film with Michael H. Weber. Whether or not the girl was really named Jenny Beckman is not confirmed)

Also, unlike other boy-meets-girl films, this film DOES NOT follow the typical route of chronological storytelling. Instead, the events of the leading couple's relationship are spliced up and showcased in a nonlinear narrative, beginning in the middle with their break-up and then shuffling back and forth alternating between their sweet, courtship moments and morose, post-split aftermath, much like how we'd reminisce about our failed romances in our lives.

In a nutshell, the story is essentially about how a boy (Tom Hansen, a greeting card company writer, who believes he'd never truly be happy until the day he met his true love) meets and falls head over heels with a girl (Summer Finn, who having seen the disintegration of her parents' marriage, does not believe in true love, does not want a boyfriend or ever intend on getting married), only to have her break his heart, dash his dreams about true love's existence, and yet in the end, help restore his faith in love again.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel does a commendable job as the leading couple, with just enough screen chemistry that makes the reel romance realistic and believeable, without being nauseatingly sweet, cutesy, or resembling something that'd never happen in real life (you know, like "Pretty Woman", "Ghost", etc). And halfway through watching the show, I realized what the nagging thought in my mind was about - Joseph (all grown up since his early years on "3rd Rock From The Sun") bears an uncanny resemblance to the dearly departed Heath Ledger! (The two of them even bumped shoulders when they both co-starred in "10 Things I Hate About You" back in 1999!) And judging from his smart choices in film roles (a gay prostitute and child sexual abuse victim in "Mysterious Skin", and a teen embroiled in an underground drug ring in "Brick", etc.), it would seem that Joseph could very well go on to become quite the acting thespian, much like his "doppelganger" Heath (perhaps, there might be hope for someone to reprise the role of "The Joker" in Chris Nolan's "Batman" film series after all).
As for Zooey, her doe-eyed demeanor and quirky personality bears much similarity to a young Audrey Hepburn!
In addition, it was a treat watching how the director Marc Webb ingeniously integrate into the film a number of zany segments executed via various genre styles, in line with the film's idiosyncratic nature, to convey the male lead's state of mind. My personal fav was the bit where Tom, having first gotten Summer to let down her guard and allowed him into her world, ecstatically launched into a musical number, leading the entire street of passer-bys, a marching band and even an animated bluebird (just like the one in Disney's "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah) in a jubilant dance parade (much like Gene Kelly did in "Singing In The Rain")!

In spite of its initial claim, this film IS a love story - not so much in the cinematic fantasy world of love, but more so how love really is like in reality... That for the hopeless romantic, it never really is how you imagine it to be in your dreams; that even if you might have found that someone who fit your every idea of your Mr or Miss Right, he or she may not actually be the one you end up with; that love can blossom and it too can end one day; that love may not last forever; that love could find its way into the heart of yes, even the bitter, jaded cynic; and that for those of us who have seemingly given up on ever finding love, after failed relationship/s, this film gives us hope to keep on trying. Bravo!
My rating:
& 1/2 stars out of 5 stars (It's one for the books, but somehow the hopeless romantic in me still craves for more escapism in a reel romance)

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