(500) Days Of Summer
Review: Lachlan Marks
As the hype machine prepares to crush this film, know that (500) Days Of Summer, is inescapably a romantic comedy. Yes, it is filled with indie cool, is fast moving and in many ways unconventional, but it's also cute, fuzzy and heartwarming. It's likely to hold its own against long-serving heavweights such as High Fidelity in terms of clever mush, but a life-changing piece of cinema it is not. It's a sweet-but-not-too-sweet, fun film, that doesn't quite deserve the kudos and associated pressure to perform that it's been heaped with; just because almost every film in this genre is a pile'o'shite designed merely to keep underappreciated housewives from murdering their families, doesn't mean we need to compare it to putting a man on mars.
That said, the newly single are going to struggle when reliving their own heartbreak or cold heartedness and those paired will be taking sideways glances because there's a rare honesty and warmth that extends well beyond the dreamy leads and quirky sets here.
Built around the idea that one person's heartbreak is another person's minor hiccup, we follow an out-of-sequence recap of Tom (Joseph Gordon Levitt) and Summer's ( Zooey Deschanel) office romance. He's a writer for a greeting card company - a source of great humour once things sour - and she's the new assistant to his boss. After much low-key eye-humping they hit it off doing karoake at a company shindig. Tom's found the love of his life; Summer's just kinda chillin' - or is she? We switch between the highs and lows of the fling, peppered with moments of Tom seeking wisdom from his unversed co-workers and pragmatic 12-year-old soccer playing sister (taking Diablo Cody's practice of turning kids into wisecracking thesauruses to a whole new level).
The strength of the film is in the editing which keeps it charging throughout, counting off random days from their relationship so quickly and richly that RunPee.com are probably facing their biggest challenge to date. There's no filler yet somehow it all feels laidback and easy to digest, leaving space for some proper stewing-in-your-chair time. Despite the viewer's inevitable affinity for one side of this messy entanglement, neither player is ever demonised, so it's sure to get you thinking things like, "maybe I was a bit of a dick?" and, "I really over do things don't I?". Disarmed by these soft but clever changes to a tired formular, it becomes easy to overlook otherwise unwise structural decisions such as an uneven narration and fun but entirely random fantasy sequences.
In the end it all feeds into the mixtape nature of its overpowering charm. The spark between the subtle and outraged performances, offbeat eye candy (these two truly are as hot as op-shop chic gets) and idiosyncratic laughs make watching one poor chap learn how to get-the-fuck-over-it an absolute delight.