The romantic comedy genre, or rom-com if you like, is a difficult genre to sell. This is because, unlike practically any other type of film, the basic premise will be exactly the same between each romantic drama. The plot is always going to be the same. The two main characters are going to get together at the end of the film and everyone is going to live together happily ever after – or are they? This is why I love (500) Days of Summer. It's different. This is not a love story, this is a story about love as the tag line tells us.
Tom (Joseph-Gordon-Levitt) is a wanna-be architect turned professional greeting card writer whose life is thrown for a loop when he suddenly falls for the "new girl" (see what I did there...?) Summer (Zooey Deschanel), a girl who appeared most certainly unattainable at first glance, Tom manages to charm her into what she coins as a, "casual relationship." Eventually, Tom ends up questioning their status with one another, which manages to put strain on the relationship, causing her to request the dreaded "time apart." (500) Days of Summer chronicles the bitter sweet beginnings, the untimely endings and all of that confusing stuff that takes place during the in betweens of a relationship that just isn't meant to be.
Levitt and Deschanel have true chemistry. There are some beautiful, subtle moments of tenderness as well some heart-rending moments of disconnectedness between the two that never comes across as heavy- handed. The movie constantly reminds you that these are two different people with different ideas of a relationship, yet they stubbornly continue their dating, and they remain lovable all the same.
As events unfold out of sequence, you know all along Tom has fallen for a time bomb of a woman, and he can't even see the countdown. When that bomb finally blows up in his face, it unfolds with powerful simplicity-- no exposition or dialogue, just two juxtaposed events that capture the heartache of reality hitting a person who sees a person through the filter of some deep-seeded emotions that where planted at too young an age.
A word has to be said on the sound track too. It's absolutely fantastic. A mixture of The Smiths, Hall and Oates, Simon and Garfunkel and She & Him make it up and it does that magic something that a soundtrack is supposed to do: represent the film. There's a song for each character, important moment and funny line that is memorable and tonally perfect.
It's quirky like Juno, it's quotable like Punch-Drunk-Love and it's got an outstanding soundtrack like Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, but it manages to be different to anything else I have ever seen.
An omniscient narrator sets the film up early on by noting "this is not a love story." And, in a way, it isn't. It's a story about feelings. It just so happens (500) Days of Summer captures the sensation of falling in love better than most movies.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Tom announces: “People buy these cards because they can't say how they feel or they are afraid to.” (500) Days of Summer isn't afraid to and it's all the better for it. It's fantastic. Go watch it.