Wednesday, July 29, 2009



Director: MARC WEBB




Run Time: 95 min.


“You should know up front this is not a love story.”

- Narrator (beginning scene)

Nonetheless, this is still a story about love, falling in and out. This remarkably funny and delightful movie serves almost as a video journal of one young man’s love affair with what he perceives to be “the one”. Wonderfully acted, beautifully filmed and very smartly written, this is certainly one of the more rewarding features this summer.

Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a would-be architect turned sappy greeting card writer who still believes in once-in-a-lifetime kind of magical, destined love. Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel), the fresh off the plane from Michigan new secretary of Tom’s boss, does not share this belief but they have plenty in common to hit it off right away. After all, they both love The Smiths. That is Day 1. Since the movie does not unfold in sequence, you have already seen Day 488 (or such) before you visit Day 1. The movie winds backward and forward in between the 500 days observing the events mostly from Tom’s perspective. Some may find this slightly distracting but consider this, who can remember the past (especially relationships) in sequence? I tend to hop in between the good moments and the painful ones, starting from what I remember most.

The story covers the entire span of emotions for Tom from the gentle tugs of the first meeting to the swelling tides of initial reciprocations of affection, to riding the wave of everlasting endearment, to toppling from that wave at the first crack in the relationship, to the rip-tide that pulls him under as the relationship appears to be beyond salvage. While we see the events unfold from Tom’s perspective, the movie remains honest in portraying the characters in a balanced view. Tom, while sappy, is a bright young man who can be charming and witty. Summer is a beautiful, confident, smart and independent woman of today who is always scrupulously honest with him. She is sincere in her affections and does not want to see anyone else but does not want to ever marry.

Zooey plays her part perfectly and makes us wish there are more like Summer around. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who has earned a lot of credibility since Brick, succeeds in presenting Tom as a very likeable, hopeful romantic that we want to root for. Tom is in love with Summer from the moment he lays eyes on her; in fact, he is in love with the idea of Summer. Since we see Summer from Tom’s eyes, she remains a bit of an enigma for a good portion of the film. But being in love, I suppose Tom remembers her as he wants to remember her. It takes an insightful nudge from his pre-teen sister for Tom to really start seeing Summer as she is. It is interesting to see Tom observe the very same things that he found terribly endearing at one point and find them annoying. I suppose we have all been there.

Director Marc Webber, making his feature debut, references several sources: a little Bergman, a little Fellini, some black and white, some animation, The Graduate as well as his previous expertise in music videos. But this is not a criticism: it takes a special art form to combine all these different influences and concoct a marvelous, pleasing mix. An added feather in his cap is the fact that he has presented the city of Los Angeles in such a different and endearing manner that it will serve as a reference for future films set in L.A. The architectural tour that Tom gives Summer gives us a whole new perspective on downtown L.A.

The biggest thing going for this film is its script, written in a semi-autobiographical tone by Neustadter and Weber. Neustadter is from Margate, NJ and now resides in L.A. According to the website’s biography, he loves sad British pop and the movie, The Graduate. Not surprising, after seeing the movie. The duo is rightly named on Variety’s list of “10 Writers to Watch”.

Download this: Us by Regina Spektor, There is a light that never goes out by The Smiths, She’s got you high by Mumm-Ra, Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap… oh heck! just download the entire soundtrack.

1 comment:

  1. Based on your review, Deep, I downloaded this for my i-Touch to watch while traveling and I really did enjoy it! These two leading characters will be interesting to watch as they progress in their acting career. I adored the soundtrack as well.