Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Review: (500) Days of Summer

I'm a massive fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, even though I haven't seen him in all that many films (Mysterious skin and Brick before this). He's a very subtle screen presence, and eminently likeable and relatable, even when playing a less sympathetic character. Hence I was all too happy to go and see him in non-rom-com (500) Days of Summer.

The film charts the ups and downs of his character's relationship with "Summer", a girl he meets through his job at a greeting cards company, and I found it pretty enjoyable. Gordon-Levitt is great as Tom, and Zoey Deschanel is very solid as his love interest, with ample comedic support provided by a slew of secondary characters.

There is certainly an effort to make the film stand out with quirky diologue, and experimental presentation, and to an extent it works - the experience never feels tired, and there are some genuinely impressive moments of invention in the way the story is told. The slightly off-beat feel about the film in general fits well with the script, which wobbles the full gamut between abstract comedy and more subtle emotional stuff. However, the decision to take such daring editing and directing decisions also weighs against the film - there is a loss of consinstancy and coherence when events are presented differently from scene to scene, and there is some loss of character development in the snappy diologue.

There is also the presence of an annoying and entirely unecessary voiceover, which provides no insight or information, and makes the segments over which it runs feel like they've been picked out of a seventies sit-com. It betrays a lack of confidence in the actors and the script to have an explanatory monologue, especially one which clashes with the style and pace of the film so badly - the lines read are devoid of humour or style in what is otherwise a genuinely funny and stylish film - and it is an element that noticeably detracts from the quality of the experience.

In general, then, I enjoyed (500) days of summer - it was light and funny, while taking enough risks to feel much more than a run-of-the-mill rom-com. It doesn't all stick together, and the characters didn't feel as fully developed as they might have done, but the story skips past pleasingly, and I'd certainly recommend it to anyone interested in a new take on an old story.

Verdict: 7/10

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