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[*Author’s Note: I felt that it should be mentioned that it is almost impossible to give a brief synopsis of this film since its main progression is often fueled by subtle actions rather then major landmark moments. Thus, the following review truly hopes to serve as encouragement for you to quickly trade in your Potter tickets and go see this truly beautiful classic in the making]
When most men hear the phrase “Romantic-Comedy” they usually envision a lost coin toss between their significant other, but Fox Searchlight’s latest film takes aim to change that. The premise may be disguised as the simple scenario of boy meets girl, however 500 days approaches the famous (and often sought after) perfect romance a different way, with a realistic dose of pain and a surprisingly hopeful outlook.
From the very beginning we are warned by the film’s Narrator (the often snarky voice of reason) who states “this is not a love a story” a statement we forget almost instantly as we are introduced to our hero, Tom Hanson, who is earnestly embodied by the instantly lovable Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Tom is one of the few remaining modern day romantics, who finds himself working at a Greeting Card Company, even though Tom once hoped to be an architect now he sits at his desk in waiting for “the one”. Enter Summer Finn, played with a sense of unexplainable beauty by the lovely and delightfully awkward Zooey Deschanel, Summer joins the staff as the new assistant, and does not share Tom’s belief or hunger for love.
Regardless of Summer’s original disinterest the days go by (and often out of order) showing the passionate progression of Tom’s feelings for Summer, from beginning to end. The inevitable relationship is filled with its giggly ups and heavy downs, but even the familiar moments are filled with a fresh sense of purpose.
The story finds itself carried on the shoulder’s of Gordon-Levitt and his hopelessly romantic perspective, but does also receive reinforcement from the powerful chemistry of the 500 days supporting characters, from Tom’s younger sister Rachel and her worldly advice, to the jaded input of Tom’s romantically impaired chums McKenzie and Paul. These characters provide a dialogue and connection so real; one could not help but be reminded of their own personal confidants and their often misplaced opinions.
Overall, it should be stated that the power of this film is not found in one particular element, but in the almost fated unity of all its different components, a process that echoes the very pattern of the love the movie aspires to describe.
Almost instantly inviting the viewer into the colorful and almost unrecogonizable streets of Los Angeles with bright cinematography, Director Marc Webb helps to deliver a very quaint and playful visual picture, (and at several points even incorporating some good old fashioned split screen filming) This intentionally colorful setting is not only one without nudity and gratuitous sexuality but one stuffed to the brim with old school charm and music that serves as a cultural time machine. The mere fact that the movie manages to leave itself chronologically ambiguous, aside from the transitional countdown, is powerful proof for this timeless story.
Praise is due to relatively green-horned writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, whose gentle handcrafting of personal experience into screenplay, expresses a shared understanding of the rippling impact in even the smallest events on one’s the heart, an understanding which manages to keep this film and its sorted timeline well-paced and fresh.
Following the note of well-paced freshness, much credit also goes to composer Andrea von Foerster who masterfully arranges a moving soundtrack anchored by two particularly beautiful pieces by Russian anti-folk artist Regina Spektor, that manage to layer into the piece’s overall glisten.
Truthfully, I never thought that I would find myself falling in love with a movie, but director Marc Webb’s modern day “not quite love” story has proved me wrong. A film for anyone those who finds themselves still salvaging belief in true love, finally Hollywood has delivered a story just for you, one that carefully carries a realistic message while portioning in a good old fashioned pinch of hope. Which is why this movie gets: 5 hundred out of 5 hundred days of Summer. (5 out of 5)