Saturday, July 18, 2009

FILM: (500) Days of Summer

We mostly enjoyed (500) Days of Summer, a light quirky romantic comedy, or, as the narrator might insist, not a romantic comedy but a comedy about romance. The film plays with all sorts of conventions, including inverting the typical romcom formula with a hopelessly romantic boy and a free-spirited, commitment-phobic girl, and a timeline that chronicles their year-and-a-half long relationship starting at day (382) and bouncing back to day (10) and forward again to (127) and back to day (2), or something like that. The story-telling is entirely subjective from the hopelessly romantic boy's point of view, and the film plays with the subjectivity, free-flowing from straightforward life scenes to voiceovers, split-screens (expectations vs. reality), classic movie parodies and a break-out musical number (not counting the karaoke). The film is also a visual valentine to downtown Los Angeles, as seen through the eyes of our hopeless romantic (who's a frustrated architect working at a greeting card company) as he shares his urban appreciation with the object of his amorous attention. The film thrives on the utterly charming performances of its stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, the great visuals, and the dynamic non-linear unfolding of the relationship. I did mostly enjoy it, even though I did feel the ending felt a bit flat. Summer was such a fresh and intriguing character, and it just felt like she collapsed from 3D to 2D at the end, inexplicably becoming quite conventional. In retrospect, I appreciate that it's actually quite realistic and understandable given the strong subjectivity of the story being from his point of view. A curveball from his point of view might be a straight line from her point of view, but all we ever had was his point of view. And being a hopeless romantic myself, I left pleased that hopeless romance was ultimately vindicated, as it should be in a light summer romcom. Pleased but just a bit let down that the denouement didn't quite live up to the convention-defying creativity of the rest of the film. Nonetheless, if you love a quirky romance (or Los Angeles architecture), you'll enjoy this. Who knew Ikea could be so fun?

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