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CineVegas Review: 500 Days of Summer


Very seldom does a romantic comedy come along that is a) funny or b) original. Like another innovative predecessor, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, 500 Days of Summer takes the romantic comedy premise and flips it on its head.

Tom and Summer work together at a greeting card company, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the introverted writer and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is the new girl at the office. With a bit of prodding from his friends, Tom asks Summer out. Like every other rom-com they meet cute, date for awhile and make love, but that is where the similarities of the film and its genre end.

Where a majority of these flicks turn left, 500 Days of Summer darts to the right continuously. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn't.

In this particular case Tom is the hopeless romantic and Summer has no belief in Valentine's Day trappings. Big fights don't always lead to getting back together. There is no race to catch a loved one at the airport before the last flight. There is no make-up scene at the end where the music swells, followed by a montage of out-takes attached to the credits.

Director Marc Webb has assembled all of the traditional ingredients: the boy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the girl (Zooey Deschanel), the best friends and the kid sibling who offers sagely advice. Yet none of that is what makes 500 Days of Summer worth watching. The ingenuity lies in Webb splicing in a spontaneous dance number—trust me it works—non-linear storytelling, split-screens and other tricks of the trade without losing focus on the relationship between Summer and Tom.

Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel are not the usual suspects for headlining a romantic comedy, but the two leads shine in their respective parts. A film like this lives or dies depending on the chemistry between the leads and these two have that indefinable quality called "it".

Most interesting about 500 Days of Summer is that the film unfurls in the way that most remember relationships. Memories of sleeping in during a rainy weekend morning are sometimes immediately followed by the tearful goodbye. The thorns ever so present at the time are obscured by the sands of time. We see what we want to see. Love is hardly ever that reassuring.

As the audience learns with Tom, the story isn't always the relationship itself, but the time spent therein.

***/****

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