I recently watched 500 Days of Summer, a comedic drama starring Joseph Gordan-Levitt as Tom Hansen and Zooey Deschanel as Summer Finn. The film was produced by Dune Entertainment and Fox Searchlight Pictures and released in 2009. It was directed by Marc Webb, who is known for the Amazing Spider-Man films. Tom’s complex relationship with Summer is the film’s main focus. I loved how the writers creatively use flashbacks to explore a story about relationships and the fallout after. I do want to warn you that this film does not follow the general love story plotline, however, if you want to see the ups and downs of a doomed relationship, this film is perfect for you.
Plot Summary: SPOILERS AHEAD!
This film follows the 500 days during which Tom falls in and out of love with Summer. The movie starts with the narrator warning the viewers that this film is not a love story. He then introduces Tom, a guy with his head in the clouds dreaming of love. The first time Tom sees Summer is at the office, Tom soon realizes he has found the girl of his dreams. The film then flashes to Tom distraught because he and Summer have broken up. Throughout the film, we see Tom looking at the memories of their relationship fondly while trying to figure out a way to win her back.
At the beginning of the film, viewers see Tom pining after Summer for a while and their relationship starts once Summer learns of his crush. The relationship starts casual, but once they get to know each other better it grows. However, the relationship comes to an end when Summer gets bored. As Tom looks back through his memories, he finally faces the truth: Summer was not as invested in their relationship as he was. The film follows several interactions between Tom and Summer after the breakup, and it explores the work that Tom put in to grow after the breakup.
Though the film did not end like a typical romance movie, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved how it walked through the stages you go through when you break up with someone by utilizing flashbacks and present circumstances. The filmmakers employ the flashbacks by revealing the story of Tom and Summer’s relationship in little bits and pieces of the past and present. These scenes helped to round the story and gave the viewer an understanding of the nature of the relationship. For instance, Tom’s flashbacks revealed his changing emotions concerning the relationship. Tom’s recollection of his memories allows the viewer to learn of how Tom fell in love with Summer. As the film progressed, his memories showed how Tom and Summer grew apart. The flashbacks were a vital part of the film because they tied the story together by revealing the stages of Tom’s grief concerning the relationship.
The film also explored the unique theme of how love can cloud one’s judgment and the progress it takes to see things clearly after ending a relationship. It showed the viewer Tom’s mindset during the relationship and breakup. Tom was so in love with Summer before and during the relationship that it clouded how Summer truly felt about him. However, during the breakup, this cloud slowly faded away, and Tom began to see that Summer never loved him the way he loved her. For example, when Tom looks at a memory of them going to the movies, he sees it as a happy memory towards the beginning of the breakup. Towards the end, this memory upon further examination reveals that Summer was not satisfied with the relationship. The breakup allows Tom to pursue his dream of becoming an architect. The pursuit of his dream provides him the opportunity to meet Autumn. I love this small detail that is ironic since the season, autumn, comes after summer. The flashbacks and the premise of the story worked well together and provided an excellent movie.
500 Days of Summer examined a different view on relationships: what happens during and after a breakup. I love this perspective because it is not typically seen in the film industry, and I hope to find more films like it. I rate this film a 4 out of 5 stars. It left me sad yet hopeful. I felt Tom’s disappointment over the lost relationship, but I knew that there was hope for new love in his future. Watching Tom fall so deeply in love with someone that he could not realize wasn’t in love with him made me question the role infatuation plays in blinding people to reality and causing them to pursue a relationship that is not right for them. I loved both Tom and Summer, but it was good they went their separate ways. It taught me that breakups can help you to grow.
NOTE: You can find this movie on Amazon Prime.
Feature image from 20th Century Studios.