Full disclosure. I knew I was going to be in love with this movie before I even saw it. Typically, this kind of over-hyping would cause me to end up being disappointed — “Marie Antoinette” directed by Sofia Coppola suffered this fate — but not so. I laughed, I cried, and Ryan Gosling, poor thing, has been usurped by the wonderfulness that is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I know, I can’t believe it either.
The Lowdown: The film starts off with a warning — “This is not a love story.” Except that it totally is, just not your typical one. For starters, it’s certainly a love note to Zooey Deschanel who plays “Summer” whom Tom (Gordon-Levitt), an aspiring but slacking architect, devotes 500 days of love to. I can already hear the backlash against Deschanel that’s sure to begin any day now, as an entire movie devoted to her representation of utter indie-girl perfection is sure to annoy some folks. Whatever. I found her endearing.
While Tom knows his life won’t be complete until he finds “The One,” Summer doesn’t believe in love, declaring it a “fantasy.” When the two meet at work — she’s a secretary and he’s a writer at a greeting card company — they spark up a friendship, which then turns romantic/sexual. He believes it to be a relationship, despite the fact that she warns him she’s not interested in something serious. There’s a decisive reversal of the gender roles found in most chick flicks — in “(500) Days Of Summer,” Tom is the romantic yearning for commitment, while Summer is the cynical free spirit who just wants to have fun. Yet, Tom is sure Summer is The One. The audience knows from the beginning that Tom’s love story is not going to pan out the way he’d like it to, and while I found myself rooting for Summer and Tom to work things out, I wasn’t disappointed when they — SPOILER ALERT — didn’t. Ultimately, no matter how perfect together two people seem on paper, the heart doesn’t always take the most direct route to happiness.
The Verdict: Usually when I “cry” at movies, it takes the form of a watering eye, but this time, I had straight-up fat tears rolling down my face. True, I am PMSing, but the movie struck a chord for me, having come out of a long relationship fairly recently, totally heartbroken, not entirely sure why it didn’t work. While I’ve resolved a lot of those questions, I was moved by Tom’s experience, which was delivered so beautifully by Gordon-Levitt. He has grown into a hot piece of sexy man, y’all. Summer and Tom’s love story may not end happily, but the film is a love story about the one — and, yes, that “soul mate-ism” can be found in more than one human being — who is out there.