It’s no secret the ratio from good to bad currently in theaters is little mind numbing, especially when you see something like “Shark Night 3D” about to hit the big screen this weekend. So, it almost goes without saying that we all are looking to DVD’s to get our movie fix and this week I wanted to showcase a film that I would bet many still have yet to see, “(500) Days of Summer.” Two years ago, this film came and went without much fanfare, despite my own feelings on it being a “sleeper” for award season. That’s a shame, for this is one of those refreshing stories that simply do not come around all that often.
This coming of age story revolves around Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young, former student of architecture, turned greeting card writer who among other things, is just living out his mundane life. Nothing exciting ever happened for Tom, until his boss’ new administrative assistant, Summer (Zooey Deschanel) walked into a meeting one day. It was then Tom’s entire life turned upside down, both figuratively and literary. Hailed from the deep Midwest, Summer came to LA with virtually no baggage, just wanting to get a fresh start in the City of Angles. She was beautiful, witty and among other things intriguing as the more Tom got to know her the more he liked, eventually feeling a tad bit love-struck toward the new transplant. So much so, he had no clue how to approach those feelings, until they each had ‘one too many’ at a local karaoke bar after work one evening. It was then; they connected and never looked back, even though they probably should have considering all the events that would transpire over the next 500 days, leading to a roller coaster ride full of love and just how mysterious it can be at times.
A friend of mine told me a while ago that Zooey Deschanel needs more to do; basically stating she hasn’t been given that one role she can shine in. Well, “(500) Days of Summer” might have been that role, given Miss Zooey has a new fall TV show about to come out. Because let’s face it, outside her character being a part of the title; it can’t get much bigger than this for the young actress, born into showbiz some 20+ years ago. And be fore this, Deschanel kind of meandered in and out of a lot of lesser roles in film and TV. But, wherever she landed, no matter the length of time, she made her presence known, which is why I was glad to see her in a role like this. Sure, it may not be a part of a blockbuster series, but typically the good actresses aren’t found that way.
Instead, they are found in lower budget films like this, ‘indies’ that are under the radar a bit and only get bigger by word of mouth. And Deschanel certainly made the most of this role, as her version of Summer was uncanny and frankly mesmerizing at times, given how easy it seemed to be for her. And the good thing for Deschanel was, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was on the other end, feeding off her every move, making quite the duo on screen. In fact, before this film, I never gave Gordon-Levitt much thought; one because his name is too long and two, because he never stood out in any of the roles I had seen him in. I know, shallow reasons, but hey, it’s true and frankly, I had no idea what to expect from this kid. But, he did well and managed to keep balance throughout all the ups and downs of his character Tom.
As I mentioned, this film was not be seen by a whole lot of people a couple years ago, but the few that did happen to catch it probably will agree how well written and directed it was. That’s the biggest praise I can give a film like “(500) Days of Summer,” as it had its moments more times than not. So, I credit not only the screen writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, but I credit director Marc Webb for making sure everything on paper played out perfectly on screen, which it did, plus some. And to think, all Webb did before this was direct music videos. All the little things worked like magic with this film too. Things like the split screen of critical decisions, the counting down or up of days seemed to move within the story like it was meant to and even the sudden break into a joyous dance sequence worked. When all that happens, you have something special and to me, this film was exactly that. Sure, it could be broken down and chewed up for its rare inadequacies, but I just don’t see much there for this hidden gem. This film told its story in a new way, in a way that allowed the audience to connect even more, and to me, no matter the genre it gets placed into, this film should be praised for that.
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