500 Days Of Summer

Smartly subversive rom-com, with plenty of Smiths references

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  • 500 DAYS OF SUMMER
  • DIRECTED BY MARC WEBB
  • STARRING JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT, ZOOEY DESCHANEL
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Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) works as a greetings-card writer in L.A. He believes in finding “the one”, and listens to “sad British music”. Boy meets girl: she’s Summer (Zooey Deschanel), fellow Smiths fan, who likes things “casual”. “Relationships are messy and feelings get hurt. Who needs that?” Over 500 days, the divide between his romanticism and her modernism grows insuperable.

A sharp spin on the usual rom-com formulae, this is funny, sensitive and challenges the genre’s gender conventions. Darting back and forth across the couple’s time together, snappy scenes nail the essence of infatuation then deflation. A split-screen shows Tom’s expectations of a party contrasted with the reality. Elsewhere, he breaks into a Hall & Oates song, joined by dancers and animated bluebirds.

Gordon-Levitt channels the young John Cusack while Deschanel is perfectly cast as the indie boy’s cute, spacey, ideal girl. There are nods to The Graduate and High Fidelity; The Pixies and Regina Spektor are on constant rotation. Although it doesn’t attain greatness (Tom wears Clash and Joy Division t-shirts to signify his “differentness”), this is charming, wry and sometimes brave.

CHRIS ROBERTS

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