Monday, September 7, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer
Directed by Marc Webb
Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel

The genre of Romantic Comedy, or "Romcom" as all the time-pressed youngsters call it these days, is something best compared to a well-worn pair of dress shoes; over time, they've worn in to a comfortable shape, you know what to expect when you put them on, and you rarely regret having put them on. This is not necessarily a complement. We're talking about leaving a movie simply not minding that you've just lost ninety minutes, as opposed to having found great value in them.

It is a great, great pleasure to see a movie that manages to do something new with those shoes. (500) Days of Summer is a romantic comedy, but it is a smart one, it is fresh, it is idiosyncratic without being fey. It is testament to director Marc Webb's abilities that this movie came across perfectly; the jokes rely on perfect timing to not seem twee.

Zooey Deschanel is pitch-perfect as the titular Summer; you will have a hard time not falling in love with her early on. Much has been made of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's evolution into one of the finest actors of his generation, and his performance here justifies everything you've heard; he's an actor who knows how to inhabit the emotion of the moment, without making a show of it. Towards the end of the film, there is a scene on a train where he manages to imbue more genuine emotion into a pause then most actors could get out of a monologue. Stunning.

The story manages to go places you don't quite expect, and, assisted by its non-chronological sequence of presentation, it keeps you engaged and interested, without ever managing to be cheap. I would be remiss if I did not mention the music selection, all of which is perfect; the soundtrack consists of Regina Spektor, The Smiths, Doves, Hall & Oates, and Feist, to name a few; all the song choices fit the story and the mood exquisitely. The music supervisor for this film, Andrea von Foerster, did a superb job; she earned her paycheck during an absolutely hilarious segment involving "You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates. I haven't laughed that hard in a movie theater in years.

In short, there's nothing about this movie I didn't like, and there are very few things about it I didn't love. You should do yourself a favour and see it; life will just plain feel better.

Grade: A

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