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Thursday, July 23, 2009

(500) Days explores unbearable twee-ness of Summer

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The title of the quirky rom-com (500) Days of Summer contains two signs of its compulsive twee-ness. “Summer” refers not to a season but a young woman, played by Zooey Deschanel, and those parentheses foreshadow the film’s unifying narrative gimmick. The film cuts back and forth between key moments of the 500 days of Summer’s relationship with Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), from their first meeting to the point at which he finally gets over her.

Tom first notices Summer when they’re co-workers at the same greeting card company (although he’d rather be an architect). Her beauty and free-spirited ways entice him almost immediately, but even after they start dating and sleeping together, she maintains more emotional distance. Even though Tom falls in love, Summer claims not to believe in deep romantic attachments. During a low ebb of their couplehood, Summer compares them to Sid and Nancy — and she’s Sid Vicious. Gordon-Levitt’s deadpan, soft-eyed performance cultivates sympathy while grounding some of the film’s whimsy. He’s one of the most interesting under-actors of his generation, making the most of a minimalist style, like he’s a student of Bill Murray’s contemporary work.

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(Image courtesy Fox Searchlight)

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