The movie is about a man named Tom and a woman named Summer and their days in and out of love. But as the narrator warns at the start of the film: “This is a boy meets girl story. It is not a love story.”
Joseph Gordon Levitt plays Tom: a twenty-something whiling away his life in the doldrums of a dead-end greeting card job. Zooey Deschanel plays Summer: a notoriously charming beauty with a quirky personality. From the moment Tom lays eyes on her, he decides that this is the girl he has been waiting for his entire boring life. On the other end of the spectrum, Summer has different ideas about personal fulfillment and relationships. Tom is a romantic; Summer doesn’t believe in love – eternal or otherwise.
This all sounds fairly reminiscent of your standard romantic comedy. However, the structure of the film is where things start to look Sundance-worthy. In a storybook fairy-tale fashion, the film displays snapshots of various milestones in Tom and Summer’s relationship spanning from anywhere within the “500 days” of Tom and Summer (Day 1 when Tom and Summer meet to Day 500 when all of the pieces of their love story are settled). From Ikea trips to first fights, the story is breathtakingly real despite its element of fantastic story-weaving. One example of this quirky structure was that in a manner reminiscent of Amelie, descriptions of the characters are executed in a distinct and memorable “telling” over traditional movie “showing.” As whimsical as the delivery is, this is, in actuality, the anti-fairy-tale.
If you really stop and think about it, you’ll realize (500) Days doesn’t say anything new about the boy meets girl scenario; instead, it charms the audience with a slew of style points and a lot of visual gimmicks. These tactics make it a pretty enjoyable motion picture to watch for an hour and a half.
Of course, this movie will most definitely go down as an indie classic. We can put it right up on our DVD shelves between Garden State and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. With its indie darlings and its offbeat soundtrack, the slightly below the radar status of the movie is merely a facade. The successful reception of the film was predictable, Juno-style.
Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel make for excellent indie-tastic chemistry. But I give most props to first-time director Marc Webb for breathing new air into what could have easily been a formulaic relationship tale. Webb adds those elements that the audience found so compelling: color, graphics, and some epically memorable scenes. One of these epic moments involves Tom, post first-time sex with Summer, breaking out into a dance number to Hall and Oates’ You Make My Dreams Come True. Bizarre? Yes? Out of place? Definitely. But are those not the adjectives that make viewers fall head over Converse in love with an indie flick?