Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 33
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

YOU REALLY THINK RINGO IS THE BEST ONE OF THE BEATLES?; A surprised Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, left) is amazed when Summer (Zooey Deschanel) reveals which of the Fab Four (aka the Beatles) is her favorite.

(500) Days of Summer: Incurable Romantic Woos Woman Who Doesn’t Believe in Love

Kam Williams

If you prefer your sitcoms more sophisticated than sophomoric then this story might be right up your alley. It describes the 500 days of the romantic journey of Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an architectural school dropout who has settled for a career writing inscriptions for a greeting card manufacturer. The story begins when Tom, an incurable romantic, falls head-over-heels in love with the company’s new secretary, Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), when he sees her on her first day on the job.

Convinced that they’re destined to be lifemates, he gradually summons up the courage to approach her. Over drinks at an afterhours office karaoke party, the two exchange their feelings about romance. Already smitten, Tom is crestfallen to learn that she doesn’t believe that true love exists. All is not lost, however, as Summer still is willing to date Tom provided they remain nothing more serious than friends.

The couple then enter into a year and a half long relationship which is emotionally draining for Tom, since the more intimate they become, the harder he finds it to accept her repeated reminders not to become too attached or possessive. All during this time, Summer is hard to read, and Tom ends up hoping against hope that they will have a more lasting future together.

The contrast between his expectations and the reality of their relationship provides the tension in (500) Days of Summer, a dramatic comedy that doesn’t follow the usual romantic comedy’s sequence of events.

The film is the directorial debut of Marc Webb who has coaxed convincing performances out of co-stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel who are a couple in the unusual situation where he wants more commitment and she does not. Webb effectively employs technical devices cleverly — such as split screens and flashbacks — in a fashion that’s dizzying but delightful.

Fair warning: the fate of Tom and Summer’s liaison is revealed before the premise is established, since the picture opens on day 488 with the announcement of her engagement to another guy. But don’t fret about knowing the ending, for what makes the movie compelling is the thought provoking deconstruction of their relationship during the revealing series of the couple’s intimate tête-á-têtes.

A bittersweet story reminiscent of the best of Woody Allen.

Excellent (four stars). Rated PG-13 for profanity and sexuality. Running time: 95 minutes. Studio: Fox Searchlight.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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