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Sunday, 27 September 2009

(500) Days of Summer

There's a big difference between describing an event and actually having something to say about that event. 500 Days of Summer makes the mistake of thinking that a fancy structure - in this case, various days in a 500 day relationship are sometimes shown out of order so that we get a grumbly day 350 after a perky day 50 - adds depth to a fairly lightweight story. But like all relationships, it starts out strong as a greeting card writer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) meets and falls for office assistant Summer (Zooey Deschanel), who kinda doesn't fall for him but goes along with it for a while.

There's a light touch to events (a dance number is a highlight) and the occasional shifts in time serve to highlight the roller-coaster nature of a relationship's early days and how jokes can go stale over time. But as the film progresses it doesn't get any deeper: we can see that Summer isn't into him as much as he's into her and when things go sour he's put through hell, but there's really nothing more to this film than that. It's too even-handed to really get into the pain of being dumped: we're shown that it's as much his fault as hers, and the single line where any kind of hurt is addressed ("you pretty much just do what you want") feels like the only true thing this film has to say.

It's nice for the characters that they're all so adult about things, but when a lightweight relationship segues into a lightweight breakup it makes for a fairly, well, lightweight viewing experience no matter how charming it seems.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #462)

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