Tuesday, October 18, 2011

(500) Days of Summer

By s. Tuesday, October 18, 2011 , , , , , ,
(95 min, 2009)
Director: Marc Webb
Writers: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Stars: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Geoffrey Arend

I want the one I can't have

"I want the one I can't have
And it's driving me mad
It's written all over my face"
- The Smiths, "I want the one I can't have"

Meet Tom. He writes catchy phrases for postcards, he likes the Smiths, he is a romantic.

Meet Summer. She's individualistic, independent. She never wants to get married and she doesn't believe in true, romantic love.

500 Days of Summer is a romantic comedy, told in nonlinear narrative structure, jumping between 1st and 500th day of Tom and Summer's relationship. There is one thing that will kill every movie, especially romantic comedy - lack of chemistry. Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are a terrible match when it comes to personality and on screen presence. But it's not their fault - Zooey is like a separate entity - she is in the movie, but she is never a part of it. Sure, her character was supposed to be independent, but in the light of Summer's final choice, casting Deschanel was a big mistake. Zooey is a wonderful person but she is a terrible actress - I don't know if I can even call her that - her characters are exactly like her. Had I not made mistake of watching interviews with her I wouldn't know that. I never saw a single interview with her sister Emily (who plays doctor Temperance Brennan in well known show Bones) and I still regard Emily as a good actress. But Zooey is always the same, the only two times that I may, just may, admit she tried something new was in “Winter Passing” and “The Assassination of Jesse James..” but her performance there was very brief – I still hope we will get to see more of her in rumored Director Cut of that film, which is almost holding a legendary status, since only few saw it and no one knows if it's ever going to be released.

Levitt, known mostly for being Heath Ledger's look-a-like prior to his role in "Inception" is good and convincing, no wonder that role brought him Golden Globe nomination. I've been there – sleeping for most of the day and getting drunk. Most of my friends been there, I suspect most of the people everywhere. He presents his emotional state in love and then in depression perfectly. You may even see the movie in a different way and view him as psychopath who cannot live without obsessing over some girl. I agree, that the movie does leave a window wide enough for such interpretation to exist. Some people don't search for love, they are perfectly happy on their own. But let's face it – in reality there are more of people like Tom – who search for love, for closeness, who want to have someone in their life to obsess over. Kind of a girl like Summer – which I viewed as terribly cruel and cold, selfish and inconsiderate of other people's emotions, dragging relationship who she regarded as meaningless in spite of the hurt she caused, is common too, but thankfully this type is in minority. Summer, because of the way story presents her, as this changeable, aloof person mixed with unfortunate casting of Deschanel seems like some kind of indie-listening ice berg. And somehow I suspect that was not the creators' intention.

It's too bad the casting is so off, because the movie is very good - the story and the presentation of it are amazing. There is a terrific scene in the film where main character's expectations are confronted with reality - the screen is split in two. Cruel and so real. Everything is accurate - the sudden meetings and how much importance they carry, how we try to connect using music, how we whine to our friends, how we remember all the little things - we can go back and forth in our memories, watch the time spent with person we love, in slow motion, over and over again. And with time love morphs into hate, and then back into love. There are so many things in this movie I related to. The screenplay is superb - it is like a mix of Amelie, Anything Else and Love Actually.

However, there are too many moments in this film when it's just self-indulging. I remember how the critics praised this movie because “there are not many comedies where the director makes references to Bergman”. So what? Yeah, those few moments in the cinema, where broken Tom watches sad Swedish movies are funny and visually interesting, but is that a reason to praise a movie? Because director saw “The Silence” and “Persona”? Not really. I'd praise it more if the director depicted actual emotions, not just illustrations, however charming and pretty, for words like “sadness” and “love”.
The execution - the editing, the adorable soundtrack – featuring the Smiths, Regina Spektor and Carla Bruni among others, the whole concept is wonderful. Too bad someone like Clive Owen and Angelina Jolie didn't play the main characters - those people have so much chemistry the screen could blew up plus older cast would make the story seem less silly, like something out of high school corridor conversation, but I guess for some reason, the creators went with younger, less recognizable cast – I suspect the reason to be money, as it most often is. I don't like love stories without wild passion, so it's my thing, my subjective view on the film
The movie has no passion, no actual emotions but it is interesting and unique, preciesly because of the things I regard as flaws. As a indie comedy about independent people it works fine. But with slight, however important changes it could be so much more. Because of the casting this movie is just a movie. Funny, entertaining, relaxing movie. It is amazing for people who experienced love, but let's face it - every movie about that subject is, because it rings a bell, because something in it – event, music, dialogue seems so familiar. But others won't get it - it would be like showing colors to blind man.

No comments:

Post a Comment