(500) Days of Summer

I saw this last night. Romances aren’t really my cup of tea, but the reviews pulled me in. I thought it was a mixed bag. I liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and to the degree that the movie worked, it was largely because of him. He’s the only character tha seems like a real person. A few of the movie’s conceits worked pretty well, but not all of them. I liked the split screen sequence where you see the difference between “expectations” and “reality.” That was pretty authentic. I kind of liked the musical number, and I generally liked the theme of the “love story” never really being what Gordon-Levitt thought it was.

I didn’t think the jumpy chronology was particularly useful or effective, I thought the soundtrack mostly sucked, I thought the protagonists’ "best friends’ were cliched chick flick characters, and I didn’t think very many scenes were particularly realistic.

I HATED the precocious little sister, found her self-impressed and snotty, and not the slightest bit believable as a real kid.

Mostly, though, I think what sinks the movie is Zooey Deschanel. Her character isn’t likeable or sympathetic at all. I get that she’s supposed to be a psycho bitch that JGL deludes himself into thinking is something that she’s not, and that his not understanding that she’s self-absorbed and bipolar is part of the point, but Deschanel doesn’t invest the character with anything that’s likeable even on a superficial level. She’s just nothing but cutesy quirks. She doesn’t actually seem like a three dimensional person, she’s just gives the standard, look how cute I am, watch me make fourteen different facial expressions while saying every line, look how big my eyes are, over-mannered, overly self-conscious Zooey Deschanel performance that she always gives. She gives exactly the same performance that she gave in Yes Man. It’s the only thing she does. There are no layers. She’s all surface.

I think this movie could have worked significantly better if it had had a real actress in the female lead. It’s not that “Summer” wasn’t likeable that bothered me, it’s that she didn’t seem real at all. If you compare her performance to the performance that Kate Winslett gave as a very similar character in Eternal Sunshine of the spotless Mind, you can see the difference that a real actor can make. Deschanel can’t act. She just does cutesy tics. I guess she’s adequate for romantic comedies, but not for anything which requires depth. maybe it’sjust me, but I don’t find her entrancing or charming, I just find her annoying. I didn’t buy that JGL would be that fascinated with her.

I’d give the movie about a B minus. It’s worth seeing for Gordon-Levitt, as well as for some of the insights and innovations. It’s watchable and not boring, but Deschanel keeps it from soaring.

What did everyone else think?

I think Eternal Sunshine was written about ten times better than 500 DoS.

Basically I agree with you but I give it a C.

I thought that the soundtrack was fantastic. I understand the comparison to ESotSM because of the timeline, but they are 2 completely different stories with themes that are in no way similar.
I give this movie an A-.

I was only comparing acting performances for two similar characters.

I was responding to Zebra’s post regarding ES, not yours.

I have to say, as much as I’m at a loss to dispute most of anything in the OP, I still liked the movie I lot, which I think is a huge testament to JGL. He’s as good an actor as anyone in his generation, and while I’ve enjoyed the trajectory of his career–interesting choices in unconventional movies (Brick, Mysterious Skin, The Lookout, Stoploss)–this is his first traditional romantic leading role and he sells every bit of emotion convincingly. I can’t say I’m a big fan of ZD as an object of desire, but with the right handling (whether it be All the Real Girls or Elf), I can be convinced, and the director has a lot of energy and interesting ideas to spare. Not all of them work, but at least he treats the love story as a real thing without ever pandering to the audience. It was a mature-yet-wry handling of the material, and while some of the peripheral elements (supporting characters, the greeting card setting) were kind of dumb, the core of the film held true for me.

I did like that it tried to subvert the traditional rom-com formula and show a relationship for what they’re really like, and I liked the whole angle of JGL idealizing it unrealistically. I also liked the little twist on the “all characters are fictional…any resembleance to real people is coincidental” disclaimer at the beginning.

Huh. I think I disagree quite a bit with the OP on this one. I thought the movie was one of the best of the genre I’ve seen in a long, long time.

IMO, the whole concept of Summer being non 3 dimensional is a product of the fact that we are seeing the entire relationship through Tom’s eyes. We aren’t seeing, really, a true representation of Summer, but just snippets of a relationship from Tom’s POV. Btw, that’s also where I think the “jumpy chronology” shined. It showed how we tend to look at relationships after they are over. Not linearly, but in various events picked from different parts of the relationship (especially if we are trying to see “where they went wrong”).

It’s also why little things like “Expectations/Reality” filter was so amusing as well.

Furthermore, cutsey tics can be more than enough to infatuate a guy. Also, I have a mega, mega crush on Zooey, so I can easily see how cutsy ticks can be “entrancing or charming” ;). Basically, any time I see her attached to a movie, I take notice (and buy her albums - “She & Him”). So I could totally buy someone like JGL’s character being completely taken by her.

Also I thought the soundtrack was utterly amazing and the little sister was hilarious and stole every scene she was in (I don’t think she was necessarily supposed to be realistic at all… just humorous).

I watched the movie a few weeks back and I remembered being a little conflicted by the movie right after watching it, but I think that’s settled into a general enjoyment of the movie.

It’s a fun and quirky film and though I do agree with some of Diogenes’ points, I have to say that it generally worked for me. I did like the music though, but that’s probably because I’m in the target audience for that style of music. The little sister was irritating in her worldliness, but I think it’s part of the “cutesiness” of the film, for lack of a better word, that works in some places and fails in others. For example, I loved the dance number and the Ikea scenes, but the ending scene with the introduction of Autumn sent me into a diabetic coma.

I think it was the ending that irritated me initially, but over time, I think the more charming aspects of the movie won me over.

BTW, Zooey Deschanel’s wardrobe was gorgeous.

It did use color very well.

Especially in the final scene where we see golds and reds and browns. The blue accent Zoe D’s eyes was a bit overdone but good.
What kind of bothered me was that I don’t think the writers had that much interest or love of architecture. So while they kind of talked about it, a little, they didn’t say much. Since this was the male’s true calling it was a bit of let down.

Although the contrast between his greeting card workplace and his future workplace are interesting.

The movie pretty much described my love life up until a certain point. Unrealistic expectations. Reading too much into overtures of friendship. Getting involved with people who exploit the grey area between friendship and a relationship. And the acknowledgment at the end that it’s almost impossible to fall in love without some belief that it was fated to be that way. So I thought it was a breath of fresh air in that it was a movie that could talk about love without being a formulaic love story.

Maybe it’s because I empathize with Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character, but I think this is spot-on, along with Stentor 2.5’s analysis. The right film at the right time for me.

I saw this a few days ago and I really enjoyed it. I agree with Dio’s assessments (except the chronology point. I thought it added an interesting point of tension that drove the plot).

I admit, I haven’t seen Joseph Gordon-Levitt in *anything *but Third Rock, and I was blown away by his performance. I just think he really, really nailed it.

Questions - why so much early 90’s alternative music? I don’t know much 'bout the 20-somethings these days, but are they really into The Smiths? I’m 40 and we were into The Smiths in 1987…

Also, I really strongly feel that the ending with “Autumn” (barf!) was… barf inducing. It would’ve been so much better without that.

Lastly, there was an entire row of 7th grade girls in front of me when I saw this. They were bored and texting the whole time. Of course you’re bored! What does a 7th grader know about the suffering, the pain, and the awful awful longing of having your heart ripped out and stomped on??? Meh, come back in 10 years when you know what heartbreak truly is. :slight_smile:

I think I’d give the film a similar B-level grade, and agree ZD performance is one of the main problems.

However I would (mildly) defend the “jumpy chronology”. For a small example, I think it allowed the audience to contextualize ZD’s reaction to the Ringo Starr album at the used-record shop on a number of different levels throughout the film.

Wow, I couldn’t disagree with you more. I thought that one of the strengths of the movie is that it didn’t make the love interest look like a bitch. It’s been awhile, but if I remember correctly…

Someone tells him she’s a bitch. He immediately assumes he’s telling the truth and that she’s a bitch.

He falls in “love” with her because they like similar pop culture. His friends point out this doesn’t mean they’re meant to be.

He moons over her for ages. Eventually, she makes a move.

She says what she wants up front. He lies and says that’s what he wants too. (If you missed this, his “date” later on even points out that he screwed himself right from day one.)

He falls further in “love” with her over superficial things that later grate on him.

He pushes the issue of “are we dating?” but acts happy when she reaffirms that that’s not the relationship she wants with him.

He gets in a violent brawl over the idea he’s not good enough for her, after allowing a man to hit on her. He then says this was “for her.” She is angry with him, but later goes to his place and makes up with him.

…I could go on and on but. This is 100% “guy hangs himself over and over again.” She’s depicted as not being perfect but as not being vindictive either. We also get this great feel that she’s holding back from us–because she’s holding back from him. So we don’t know her too well because he doesn’t. But he’s happy to tell himself they’re in love anyway.

Frankly, I’m amazed that someone would view the person who’s upfront and honest with their relationship as the bitch, rather than the one who’s manipulative and lies.

I agree with this 100%. At the same time, I can see why someone would think she is a bitch–she doesn’t behave the way that women in romantic comedies are supposed to behave. We think she is supposedly telling all those pretty lies that people tend to tell in these genre films–that she has been burned in love, is cynical and bitter, and that she just needs a good man to turn her around… but she doesn’t, or at least she doesn’t need it from our man. So it turns out she is just telling the cold hard truth! As a result, I think some people feel cheated. But that’s what I liked most about the film, I think–it made me think a lot about relationships and how we depict them in stories, and how that differs from reality. I think that moment when she looks annoyed at his dumb joke in IKEA is so perfect because it can be read in so many ways.

I saw this movie with my little sister and she also thought Summer was a bitch–we wrangled over it. I didn’t think the movie was perfect, but it was one of those movies that really stuck in my mind. More shallowly, Summer’s clothes were so pretty! Even if she was a bit precious. (Admittedly I fit right into the obnoxious 20s something hipster demographic for the film.)

We saw this a few weeks ago.
I think the best part of the film was the structure of the story. It was nice to see it all put together in fragments, no particular order. That is why this film is memorable.

If you have ever traveled and met someone new, and over the course of time they tell you about some love of their life, the story usually unfolds a lot like this story - certain things remind them of a funny moment, some food reminds them of the time they went to that certain restaurant, and after a few drinks in a bar one night, they might mention some of the darker sides of their relationship. After a few days, you start to get a whole picture of what that relationship was like in total.

That was the true beauty of this film.

If everything had been presented in perfect chronological order, this would have been a horribly predictable film and gone straight to DVD.

My wife and I saw this last night. I absolutely loved it. It especially resonates with me because it has the flavor of the early stages of my relationship with my wife (did I mix a metaphor there?). audreyayn, I really like your summary and analysis there. Tom’s heartache is really pretty much his own fault, but you still felt his pain and I really couldn’t hold too much rancor with Summer.

I agree that “Autumn” was too much at the end, but everyone in the audience laughed at it.

Of course, in my own story, my wife and I dated, we broke up, dated again and then got married. But the movie really brought back some of those old feelings and worries that I had years ago.

Just saw this now. I agree with many of the points made. However there are some things I don’t.

The girl being a bitch
I don’t see that at all. The break-up was too aloof, and she shouldn’t have danced with him. But other than that, no.

The little sister
I think that she might be meant to be viewed not as an actual sister, but as “the wise old man”, eg a character who has all the answers, and that is his/her only function.

Meeting Autumn
I found this cleverly meaningful, and I like that the movie ends on a hopeful note. The movie is not meant to be literal reality anyway, with the dancing in the street, and the little sister.

I liked the theme of “not lovestory”, and his quitting speech.

We watched this recently. First of all, we loved the little sister. Her viewpoint set things up perfectly. The jumping chronology was irritating at first, but then it became clear why it was actually necessary for the alternate viewpoints. Great music. Would watch again.

I don’t understand people’s complaints about some character being unrealistic. Esp. in regards to teens. You don’t want to watch a film with characters drawn solely from the middle of the bell curve. Interesting stories have people who are 2+ standard deviations from the norm. (Or alternately, normal people in abnormal situations. The everyday lives of everday people make lousy films.)

Fun fact: The ugly co-worker of J-GL is married to Christina Hendricks.