What a pleasure following Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt through love, pain and the whole durn thing. This charming film lifts the spirits while acknowledging that romance is rarely completely reciprocal and that it can really suck as well as excite.
Zooey Deschanel – whose vivid blue eyes reportedly inspired the film’s blue colour palette – carries through on her early promise with a performance that is true and real in a role that she carefully balances so that we never lose empathy.
Gordon-Levitt is a talented young actor with arrange of roles to his credit. He enters 500 Days with a fully defined take on Tom, who is more in love with co-worker Summer than he wants to be. He’d commit totally except that she has stated from the beginning that she is not looking for anything ‘serious.’
So what is serious? They have what the rest of us might call a full relationship, but she is maintains a position just outside arm’s reach. He keeps at it, discusses it with his friends and ultimately deals. It’s good to see guys talking with care and concern about such things. They don’t usually have that luxury in the movies, especially romcoms.
Nothing much new here story wise – its boy meets girl, but there are elements that make 500 Days a truly wonderful experience. It is witty, enlightened and imaginative with phenomenal performances, an innovative use of graphics and entrée into a young man’s romantic daydreams. And we learn, too that our definitions and requirements in love are unique to us and that we have no power over others’ hearts only our own.
There’s a wonderful scene in the blissful, early days of the romance. Tom skips down the street, dancing with an imaginary marching band, a cartoon bird, the people on the street, ending in a big showstopper.
They go through the typical hills and dales of love, in anything but a typical manner. Original thinking drives the film and the characters. The screen occasionally splits to look at the ‘real’ and ‘ideal’ sides of a situation, what’s happening and what our hero wants to happen. It’s a clever, honest and efficient way to move the story along while maintaining emotional connection.
The action occurs out of sequence, each day marked in titles. It replicates the way we might look back on our own romances, separating the good days from the bad ones, wondering at what point we hit or missed the mark.
There is a lot to entertainment, move and transport here, and much to learn about treating people with gentleness and respect.
Webb has hit pay dirt in his debut feature. 500 Days is a fresh and dare I say it, life affirming experience beautifully interpreted by two top young talents and a promising director.
Written by Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Directed by Marc Webb
Opens: July 17
Runtime: 95 minutes
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for sexual material and language