‘500 Days of Summer’ in review

Real-life take on relationships is disappointing

More stories from Erica Jones

DIY diaries
May 9, 2018


Tom and Summer have a confusing relationship in the 2009 film 500 Days of Summer.

A boy meets girl movie — but not a love story.

This is the warning the narrator of the 2009 movie “500 Days of Summer” gives almost instantaneously as the film starts. Yet viewers will find themselves wanting to believe it will be a love story anyway, completely disregarding the heads-up.

The film follows main characters Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) as they get to know each other, first when they meet at the greeting card company for which they both work then through their confusing and tumultuous relationship.

It’s love at first sight for Tom, who decides Summer is his soulmate the second he lays his eyes on her. Summer, on the other hand, is skeptical about love, at one point early on telling Tom she wasn’t convinced it was real. In spite of this, Tom falls in love with Summer anyway.

Throughout the movie, there is very little action, as the story focuses on the way people connect with one another. Although this may sound boring, Tom and Summer have such captivating interactions that any viewers who can tolerate an hour and a half without explosions or shootout scenes might find themselves intrigued.

Some scenes of this movie can be difficult to watch, like when Tom makes a fool of himself by ignoring all of the honest admissions Summer makes in an attempt to protect his feelings. There is also frustration since the movie feels like it should be a romance; at times I wished I could jump through the screen to shake Summer and make her love Tom.

As far as the plotline is concerned, the film jumps between two starkly different times in Tom’s life, marking the transitions with days numbered 1-500 (refer to the title). There were times I would look down for a moment and look back up to be in a scene that was the polar opposite of what I had seen 20 seconds earlier.

Even though the movie can be hard to keep up with at times, the soundtrack helps direct viewers in the right direction, with tunes by The Smiths, Hall & Oates and even Regina Spektor. The pace of the songs reflect the tone of the scenes in which they’re played, so even if viewers are emotionally confused, the songs will tell them how to feel.

I went into this movie with high expectations. It seemed all of my friends loved the movie and expressed excitement thinking I would share that sentiment. Unfortunately, I mostly felt frustrated for the majority of the movie because I couldn’t understand what went wrong in the communication between Tom and Summer. They decided not to listen to each other’s intentions.

Both were pretty upfront about their feelings from the beginning; it was clear they wanted different things, but they decided to pursue some sort of dysfunctional, incompatible relationship anyway.

The one thing I admired about this film was that it captured some of the honesty of human interaction. Sometimes people can’t help who they fall in love with or don’t. Then they continue to hurt themselves in situations and relationships they know can’t meet their needs.

I would recommend this movie for those who are interested in nontraditional takes on classic stories — or for those who like stories that feel more like real life than Nicholas Sparks novels. Personally, I prefer movies that feel like an escape from the sometimes awkward and uncomfortable interactions found in real life, so this movie wasn’t for me.

Find out if you’re a fan at any one of the film’s showings in Woodland Theater 7 p.m. this Friday, 2 p.m. or 7 p.m. Saturday or 2 p.m. Sunday.