Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer & I Are Over

Let's get this out of the way straight off of the bat. (500) Days of Summer is a fantastic movie, very cleverly written and directed with two great performances from both Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Along with Away We Go, it has easily become the most personal movie I've seen all year. And if that film gave me a glimpse of my own future, then this movie has shown me my own past, with all its successes and shortcomings.

I've been in this exact shot.

Not since Rushmore have I watched a movie and seen reflections of my life so closely mirrored in it. From Joy Division t-shirts, dreams about teeth falling out and fancying yourself as Han Solo, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Tom perfects the everyman role that he has dodged for most of his career. His thoughts of love and his imagination fueled by films had me nodding my head and laughing in agreement with him, then grimacing and feeling his pain and frustrations with Summer. He loves her as simply and purely as he can express and seems to get everything from her but those three words. His love is like the love we experience in real life, not the type that happens in Sandra Bullock movies (which is also helped by being shot in Los Angeles, not New York/Toronto). Whether Summer is inspiring him to do some of his best work or crushing his heart to the point of becoming a shut in, everything is motivated by something as simple as going to a movie or getting something to eat and not a wacky fishing trip or a dinner party with a colorful grandparent. I challenge you to watch the scene where Tom goes to Summer's party and the screen splits into his expectations and his reality without recognizing that the same thought process has run through your own head at some time in your life. Even if you've never been in love, the insecurity and awkwardness that it captures is a uniquely human emotion.

This is expectation, NOT reality.

The movie's brilliance lies in perfectly capturing the highs and lows of the relationship and contrasting each with the other. But, the scene that brings it home and hit me right in the chest was when Summer brought Tom back to his apartment and the narrator tells us everything that he's thinking. I have walked into that apartment, had those same thoughts and I was comforted not by any physical connection but by the knowledge that I was the one who was being let into her world, I was the one who earned these stories. I felt her scars, saw her pictures and mementos and heard things that she had never told anyone before.

However, as the movie is quick to disclaim, it is NOT a love story. But, as it moved toward the last twenty days of Summer, I sat there hoping for some kind of closure. And not for Tom, but for myself. By that point, I had completely internalized the story and I had to know how things could end up for me. Perhaps I missed the message of the film and it was really about Tom's speech at work about how greetings cards and movies perpetuate lies and love and relationships. But, I think maybe the message was that things happen by chance and thought they don't work out how you might imagine, they work out the way they're supposed to. And if she's reading this, (she's probably not) I hope you're truly happy, even if it's not with me.


schaggydog said...

I'm glad you liked this. It's one of my favorite films of the year so far. I have a copy of the script I can email you if you want.

Big Mike Mendez said...

Dude, totally send me that script. I want to read my autobiography.

Caz said...

I really enjoyed your review, seeing this from a man's point of view and how you have had the same feelings Tom has had.

B Tice said...


Great review devil. I saw this film today and I'll have to say you're connection to the film parallels my own. Funny. I found myself falling for Summer even though I knew it wouldn't turn out well. And I felt the blow to the chest during the party scene when he first sees the engagement ring. Great character development. Thanks for turning me on to the film...I think this one just entered my top ten (along with Rushmore).


Big Mike Mendez said...

Thanks for reading, sir. It's easy to watch Tom and see all those things that he cannot, but you cannot escape the similarities in the film and feel like you're watching yourself. It's a terrific script that forgoes the easy conventions of a romantic comedy and taps into something more deeper, allowing it such a great connection with the audience.

And Rushmore is one of my favorite movies ever. I used to watch it in the barracks until I fell asleep.

Nayana Anthony said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nayana Anthony said...

Mike! Wow. Very poignant review. I also really enjoyed the movie, but I'm fascinated by your unique perspective.