Tom is an aspiring architect, but circumstances have cast him into his current position as a greeting card writer. Tom belongs to that ostensibly elusive group of men who believe that their life is incomplete unless they find that perfect someone. For all intents and purposes he meets that one perfect someone one day at work – Summer. And thus, our story begins.
500 Days of Summer is a romantic comedy told in what is essentially a non-linear form akin to Annie Hall. I hate to mention Annie Hall because a blogger whose name eludes me at the moment compared 500 Days of Summer to Annie Hall in a rather negative review of the former. Certainly, 500 Days of Summer is no Annie Hall; but in its defence I don’t think it aims to be.
I feel a bit like I’m beating a dead horse here writing this review. Is there anyone who hasn’t seen this yet? But I digress. Whereas Tom is a somewhat hopeless and hapless romantic Summer is not. She’s quite steadfast in her hopes that their relationship remains casual. Even as she and Tom constantly bump uglies or tongue in the copy room. But whatever. Actually, one of my favourite scenes centres on this issue. After getting into a punching match with a guy at bar, Tom is nonplussed when he and Summer go home and she seems pissed. Eventually she tells him that she doesn’t need him to defend her – they’re just friends. Tom storms out angrily, and it’s a great acting moment for Gordon-Levitt. It’s also quite realistic and a smart move on the film’s part. But the sad poignancy of the moment becomes diluted when Summer goes over and apologises to him.
This portion is a perfect example of my issue with the entire film. I wish that instead of making Summer’s character unnaturally softer they’d just let her be the bitch. The final appearance of Summer and her ensuing conversation with Tom left me feeling quite cold. It just felt forced. It’s as if by the end of the film the writer has been caught up with making both leads nice characters. But life isn’t like that. I don’t think Summer would have been like that either.
Certainly, the pithy final line with the beginning of Autumn is a nice, tongue-in-cheek ending and it does assuage my slight annoyance. But I couldn’t help but feel a little cheated. I’d even have bargained. If they wanted Summer’s character to come full circle as character why not have the same happen for Tom’s character. It would have been oddly satisfying to see his character turn into a complete cad because of his 500 days with Summer. But even though he vows that there is no such thing as fate, you can’t help but feel that he really still is that same romantic guy we met at the start. But, maybe, the film is trying to send a message to us agnostics. Maybe we’re supposed to believe in fate and love and all that stuff. Whatever.
I was aching for it to be just a little bit better but maybe I was just being a little selfish. Because it was still fine at the end of the day.