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(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

(500) DAYS of Summer is the hippest, smartest romantic comedy-drama of the year.

Marc Webb’s movie takes a familiar concept and turns it on its head, while remaining impossibly romantic in the process.

When shy, Smiths-obsessed greetings card writer Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls in love with Summer (Zooey Deschanel), things don’t go according to the romantic dream he has in mind.

She likes him, and even sleeps with him, but is more interested in being friends than a long-term companion. The question is whether Tom can play by the rules of the game, or will make a fool of himself in the process.

We’ve all been there… whether male or female – everyone’s felt like Tom and known a Summer. Yet that’s part of what endears Webb’s movie and its central characters.

Crucially, however, Webb doesn’t take sides, allowing both Tom and Summer to flourish as fully rounded characters in the process. We sympathise with Tom, yet understand why he feels the way he does about Summer.

And Summer is a bright presence to be around… effortlessly conveying the type of free spirited nature that keeps her just out of reach.

Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel are perfect in their respective roles, bringing charm and depth to both of their characters.

But they’re expertly supported by Webb’s imaginative direction, which trades on familiar rom-com scenarios and embellishes them with some genuinely creative flourishes.

A split-screen sequence in which Tom attends a party in the hope of re-igniting his relationship with Summer is a classic case in point, unfolding from both a real-time perspective and the “perfect” imagined scenario that Tom has envisaged. It’s both amusing and heartbreaking in equal measure.

Likewise, a morning after song and dance routine that finds Tom giddily tripping the light fantastic down the street in a clever homage to the likes of Singin’ In The Rain and such musicals of old. It could have been cheesy as hell, but it works as one of the film’s many highlights.

I could go on… suffice it to say that Webb captivates and enchants like no other romantic movie this year. Even a montage sequence in which Tom illustrates his passion for architecture works, being filmed in such a fashion as to make Tom’s recommendations stand out.

And while there’s certainly a bittersweet, almost anti rom-com sensibility surrounding the whole endeavour, a final scene payoff ensures that you’ll depart the cinema with a warm glow.

This is exemplary stuff. A refreshingly intelligent, even insightful, romantic movie that combines fantasy with reality in richly absorbing fashion.

Forget the likes of The Proposal or The Ugly Truth, this is a romantic movie that appeals to both sexes – that’ll make you laugh, cry and root for its characters throughout.

It’s also clever enough to leave you talking about it for some time afterwards, if only to discuss music playlists in the wake of its main character’s recommendations.

Trust us, this is a fresh take on a well-worn genre that you really won’t want to miss.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 95mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: January 18, 2010