Thursday, August 6, 2009

Film Isn’t Shot In Order. Either Is Our Memory.

By Alec Horowitz

Four stars

Films aren’t shot in order. Either is our memory. Films are edited in an order to make the events look like they happened in an order that makes sense. “500 Days of Summer” plays like a person’s memory; because we don’t remember our past romances and adventures in chronological order and neither does Tom (Joseph Godern-Levitt) as he tries to piece together what went right and wrong with his former girlfriend Summer (Zooey Deschanel). In fact, the story begins not on day one, but day 488 and jumps around randomly between the different days. Sometimes the film is taking place on day 5 and other times it takes place on day 482, but don’t expect to see day 3 before day 482 because the film takes place mostly in the memory of Tom, as he pieces together what has happened.

One of the remarkable things about “500 Days of Summer” is how many different ways are used to show how a relationship is played out. When Tom gets to sleep with Summer, it turns into a scene of song and dance, a territory Marc Webb knows well, considering he is a veteran of the music video. At times Summer is charming, at other times, she doesn’t quite do right by Tom. The screenwriters are smart, as to make the movie a bit quirkier than the two main characters. This isn’t to say the characters aren’t quirky. Tom is quiet and obsessive, a bit of an emo kid who sits on the hill commenting on how there are too many parking lots. Though, still the movie is a bit quirkier than the characters in it, which lets the characters have a nice charm to them that doesn’t charm it down your throat. The third person narration, the different ways that are used to describe the relationship, such as a scene where the screen splits and on one side reads expectations and the other reality are examples of using the medium in different ways.

What is nice about Tom is that he isn’t going to be saved by the girl and be remade or anything. It’s more like we are watching Tom grow as a young man, as his obsession with a failed relationship becomes more about him and his problems that Summer herself. We aren’t stuck with the usual clichés of romantic comedy like the sexes don’t really understand each other or stupid prate falls. It’s been a while since we had this. The film is about Tom coming of age and trying to learn a mature way to deal with a relationship that didn’t work out, and even as his little sister (Chloe Moretz) suggests, to look back on his relationship and realize it’s not quite the way he romanticized it. The film does cut back to those scenes that we first saw as so romantic, and shows little differences, not big differences in the way they played out. Even something as little as a hand hold. That's refreshing, I thought, to see a film that plays with our concept of a romantic gesure that plays in our head and the real thing. That almost becomes a reflection on the genre itsself.

The film isn’t wrapped up in a neat little bow, and as such isn’t a simple romantic comedy where guy meets girl, and than it goes into autopilot and runs the motions. It’s been a while since I seen a romantic comedy that dares to be a little quirky. “500 Days of Summer” is a neurotic and pitch perfect comedy that doesn’t play by the rules of how romantic comedey is the simple plot of boy gets girl. "500 Days of Summer" isn't really about the girl. It's not about the whole cliche of how the sexes don't get eachother either. It's about the boy, and the growing experience he has because of his failed relationship with the girl. The film comes to conclusion that isn't in order. Maybe that's what the film is about. Just because it's a story of how boy meets girl, doesn't mean it's a love story. It might just be a story about boy trying to figure things out.


Marcy said...

Good review Alec! I want to see this soooo bad. I'm hoping I get to soon!
When are you coming back?

RJ said...

Great review. Haven't seen this movie yet but I think I will.