(500) Days Of Summer - Blu-ray Review

'does its best to bring something new to the rom-com table, whilst playing it straight enough for genre fans to enjoy'

Although most definitely a film which leaves itself open to being derided as 'over-quirky', (500) Days Of Summer certainly does its best to bring something new to the rom-com table, whilst playing it straight enough for genre fans to enjoy. It's a fine line to tread and director Marc Webb (hot property having been given the Spider-Man reboot) plays it well, melding a tangible 60s aesthetic with an over-wrought voiceover, knowing winks to the audience and even a minor musical number.

He's helped exponentially by his two fine and eminently likable leads. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, although still sporting a general look which calls to mind the perpetually stoned, is well cast as the role-reversal hopeless romantic who falls for office assistant Zooey Deschanel and her 'I don't want anything serious' facade (or is it?). Gordon-Levitt, set to be propelled towards super-stardom by Inception, and Deschanel are great and their slacker chemistry and easy charm are the main reason why the film works through some gooey moments of un-funny love sickness.

Towards the middle though, Webb lets the pace drop and with it, some of the invention on display in other areas. Too much time is spent in the company of our young couple, only hearing them whisper lines like 'I've never told anyone that before' which threaten to drag you back down into familiar territory. The end too (including the unnecessary 'wink, wink, nod, nod' coda) steps too close to formula for comfort and, whilst Deschanel's character's choices work, the lack of explanation surrounding them is frustrating to the audience as well as to Gordon-Levitt's Tom.

Webb has though, constructed something which aspires to be different in the way, form and shape of Garden State, a film which similarly sought to reinvent the genre for the modern romance. In it's entirety, he's probably just missed that aspiration but on more than one occasion, (500) Days Of Summer is quirky, romantic and funny in a way that few films of recent times have managed.

Look further...

'What makes this movie so seamless is the spot-on performances of the two lead actors and the very relatable story' - Reel Talk, B+


  1. I didn't really care for this one; not sure if it was overly quirky or not (genuinely) quirk enough. Though Zooey's hard to resist, the execution of the elaborate conceits was kind of limp, and the film's efforts to be idiosyncratic didn't save it from being a rather generic effort at idiosyncrisy (itself, ironically, not a very idiosyncratic aim these days).

    I reviewed it last summer here: http://thedancingimage.blogspot.com/2010/01/500-days-of-summer.html and was perhaps a bit harsh though I stand by my judgments. At the website the review used to be on, I was taken to task by one of the film's fans who surmised, rather inaccurately, that I "clearly was not a Smiths fan."

  2. I think it's fair comment to argue that the film is trying to be quirky and therefore ends up being less so although it's not one I personally subscribe to. I think some of the conceits (such as the small bits of animation, the singing section, etc.) could have featured more to show a bit more conviction but generally I think it showed enough new stuff without resorting to gimics.

    I don't think being a Smiths fan or not has anything to do with it! I'll take a look at your review and add a comment in.

  3. I don't mind quirk, really, and I don't think it's overdone here at all. The lack of development for Summer (I think) is because the movie is from Tom's point of view, so we can see why he fell in love with her, etc.

  4. I think there's plenty of good defences as to why we don't see so much of Summer. Equally though, despite this, I felt they were overshadowed by the need to understand her decisions a little more. If you can look past it though, and accept those actions for what they are, then I can see how this would be a tad more satisfying.

  5. I thought this was pretty good on my first viewing. On my second I ate it up like candy, I enjoyed it so much. Personally I prefer Tom's POV to Summer's, mostly because I imagine hers being laced in Twilight style *ughs* and indifference. Summer was a catalyst for him, not the other way around. Quirky and me just go together, and this one hit the right notes.

  6. Glad you enjoyed it so much! As I say, my problem is that Summer's decision at the end comes out of nowhere and I think in a film this short, we could have done with a bit of explanation in to that choice. Still perfectly enjoyable though, I just didn't think it was brilliant.