By Erik Davis, reprint from Sundance 2009
The feel-good, Fox Searchlight-y film of the festival, 500 Days of Summer is like When Harry Met Sally ... if Sally turned around and repeatedly stabbed Harry in the heart with a toothpick. It's an anti-fairytale about a boy who falls head over dress shoes for the kind of girl who doesn't believe in love or fate or any of those cheesy words we often hear mentioned over and over again in this kind of romantic comedy. And yes, 500 Days of Summer comes with its own pop-centric, gotta-get-it-on-iTunes soundtrack, like a Garden State or a Juno or a Wackness. It's sure to draw in a large fanbase full of those seeking a hip, this-is-what-it's-really-like story about the trials and tribulations of a relationship in 2009 -- but if you dig a little deeper, you'll realize it doesn't say anything new about boy meets girl; instead, it wins over its audience with a spoonful of style and a giant helping of visual gimmicks that, honestly, make it a pretty fun flick to watch for an hour and a half.
Yes, we all know there aren't 500 days in summer (the season), so obviously we're talking about a person -- and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) is the product of divorce; a smart, independent woman who isn't even interested in entertaining the idea of love. Tom (Joseph Gordon Levitt), on the other hand, has this bold idea that he's going to one day spot his soul mate and the two will live happily ever after forever and ever and ever. Tom understands this may be a bit unrealistic, but he blames movies, music and television for corrupting his idea of what love should ultimately look like. And yes, those 500 days define the beginning, middle and end of Tom and Summer -- as the film so boldly tells us right up front: this is not a love story.