Movie Reviews

Mini Movie Review: '(500) Days of Summer'

Love is in the air: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are beguiling in
Love is in the air: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are beguiling in "(500) Days of Summer." (By Chuck Zlotnick)
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Friday, July 17, 2009

"(500) Days of Summer," a romance starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, understands that we mark our lives by our scrapes and defeats with love rather than by the white-wedding-cake successes. It's a movie that sidesteps the Pollyanna pornography of Happily Ever After and dives headlong into the "Any Given Sunday" of normal heartbreak. A flick that brings on the smash-mouth reality of love in a funny, rewarding way that makes us laugh with recognition.

Before we act like we're reviewing high art, let it be said that it's hard to know whom to take your eyes off first, Gordon-Levitt or Deschanel. But here's the difference: They're in a story that doesn't need their pretty faces. It's a drama that, at first blush, would seem excruciatingly ordinary: the 500-day affair between Tom (Gordon-Levitt), who believes wholeheartedly in love, and Summer (Deschanel), the object of his affection, who isn't sure about love at all.

Does Tom convince Summer that love can be real, that it can work? That's the narrative suspense here. But the real story is about those personal Waterloos, the battles that take everything to fight and whose victorious outcomes are far from assured. It's about the way we look back at romances, mentally rewinding and fast-forwarding our way through the whole thing, trying to figure out what went wrong and what went right. And what makes us connect is Tom's funny, morose and ironic commentary as he does his damndest to reach the heart of a woman whose idea of lover and friend is, well, confusing.

We'll remember this movie because of Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel. But we should remember it because of screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, and director Marc Webb, who are probably not nearly as pretty. They've created the most satisfying meta-romance since 1987's "Broadcast News."

-- Desson Thomson

(500) Days of Summer PG-13, 95 minutes Contains sexual material and profanity. Area theaters.

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