“500 Days of Summer” : Best Rom-Com So Far This Year

Someone nearby is using the leaf blower. We are hot, sun-struck, supine on couches in front of TV.

We saw “500 Days of Summer.” Joseph Gordon-Levitt (“Brick,” “Stop-Loss,” “The Lookout”) is always interesting to watch. Self’s heard so much about Zooey Deschanel (inherits Parker Posey’s mantle as “Indie Queen” — ?) but hasn’t seen her in a movie until now. Self enjoyed it, but saw hubby checking his watch three times. If self were asked to describe it, she’d say it was like a French movie, only less maudlin. Cute songs, palpable chemistry between the two leads, unexpected narrative devices = cool. Also, J G-L is surprisingly effective in the karaoke scenes (He can sing???)

Zooey has great blue-grey eyes, and the most wonderful fringe of eye-lashes. Her character’s clothes were of an indeterminate era (Self thinking in particular of a sheer, pale blue dress with Peter Pan collar, which made her look little-girlish and sweet) : at first self thought she was watching a movie set in the past, but then it struck her that all the passers-by were wearing “modern” clothes. Self does eventually get it: Zooey’s character is a little out-of-sync. In the world of this movie, out-of-sync = charming.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character favored vests. Self wondered what city the movie was set in. Only three-fourths of the way in did she discover the city was Los Angeles. And the only reason she knew this was that a character happened to say “You’re in Los Angeles now,” or something to that effect. This is not, dear blog reader, a criticism of the movie. In fact, it is interesting to see a movie about Los Angeles that makes it feel “old,” that does not resort to such tired “southern California” props as: beaches, palm trees, Mediterranean-style homes, blondes, tanned bodies, cars, Beach Boys-type music, and so forth and so on. Here are the cities self considered as possible locations for the action (before the character named the city): Philadelphia. Baltimore. Even, New York.

Self knew it couldn’t have been San Francisco, because movies shot in San Francisco always have to feature the Golden Gate Bridge (Exhibits A, B, and C: “Land of the Lost,” “Star Trek,” “Terminator: Salvation”)

Someone sitting behind self stuck his foot (thankfully, he was wearing a sock) on her arm rest. Self looked around her: she and hubby were in the second row on the upper section. In the first row, these were the feet: sneakers, sneakers, bare feet, sneakers, sandals. And everyone was resting their feet on the rack in front of them. So, self decided to forgive the owner of the foot (!!@@)

Self thought: now, whenever she thinks of “500 Days of Summer,” or even whenever she sees a Joseph Gordon-Levitt movie, she will remember the foot that materialized on her arm rest.

(Tomorrow self has decided she’ll see “Funny People.”)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

4 responses to ““500 Days of Summer” : Best Rom-Com So Far This Year”

  1. I remember reading somewhere that many of the clothes and props in the movie were blue to highlight Zooey’s eyes.

    What I liked the most about the movie: it doesn’t demonize Summer. Sure, Tom’s heartbreak is relatable, the movie is set in his point of view, we feel sorry for him. But I didn’t find myself blaming Summer when the movie ended–there was so much about her that we didn’t know– and so much about her that Tom didn’t know either. I think the scene where she cried watching the end of The Graduate exposes her as more romantic than she lets on.



  2. It wasn’t formulaic, that’s for sure. I loved the “split/screen” section: “Expectation” vs. “Reality” at the party.

    I woke up wondering about that very same scene you mention, the one where she cries while watching The Graduate. I realized I never could figure out the reason for her tears, and I had to concoct my own explanation: she had an old boyfriend, maybe he was married to someone else, yada yada yada . . .


  3. Yes, the splitscreen! We’ve all been there, haven’t we, and I don’t mean only romantically!

    Tom was the sort of person who, after watching The Graduate, thought that he only needed to find the one, and everything will work out. I watched the end of The Graduate again (on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9eIXN6Sp40) to realize that the ending wasn’t quite as upbeat as that–Elaine’s and Ben’s smiles fade slowly, and they looked a little uncomfortable and uncertain, a “what now?” silence (well, it helps that Simon and Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence plays in the background).

    My take is that Summer could relate to that…conflicted blankness. Perhaps she felt that she should be feeling and wanting more, just as Elaine and Ben could have been a little more in love (but weren’t).


  4. You’re right about the expressions on Elaine’s and Ben’s faces (at the end of “The Graduate”). I felt that Elaine’s turned serious much more quickly than Ben’s — it was wonderful, seeing the contrast between his elation and her gravity (and it also reminded me that — Dustin Hoffman was not cute! And now it seems like, if that movie were being cast today, they would have to put someone like Chace Crawford or Zac Efron in that role!)

    And I kept to the interpretation that Summer was thinking of someone else (someone not J G-L, for the life of me I can’t remember the name of his movie persona!), and at first I was frustrated by this vagueness, but now I think that’s all part of who she was, this frustrating vague-ness . . . I guess that’s how the movie gets us to understand and empathize with the J G-L character’s frustration?

    Good movie!


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