Friday, August 7, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

DAN - Director Marc Webb enters the public eye with (500) Days of Summer, an unorthodox story about love. The promotional material for this film made a point of avoiding the term “love story,” and rightfully so. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a man scorned by the woman he loved (played by Zooey Deschanel). The film recounts the course of our protagonist’s relationship as he attempts to understand what went wrong.

When I first saw the teaser trailer for this movie, I fell in love. The cast, the cinematography, the locations, the narration, and especially the music plucked my heartstrings in just the right way. I even visited the Civic Center fountain in downtown Los Angeles because of its appearance in the trailer. I was looking forward to this movie.

The final product barely met my expectations, which were decidedly high. I wasn’t emotionally involved in the story at any point, but I was thoroughly entertained. Webb and his writers (Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber) have made a satisfyingly original movie, but I can’t say it had a lasting impact on me.

Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel provide decent performances, though their vacant expressions seem to suggest a lack of commitment to the roles. As I said, this film left me for the most part emotionally untouched.

I fear I might be harping too much on the negative side of a film that I actually enjoyed. Webb uses a variety of refreshing metaphorical lenses to project his vision onto the screen. Perhaps the best part of this film is Webb’s innovative use of the medium as he explores the worlds of architecture, music, cinema, and true-to-life drama. There are a number of sequences that capture the energy of that initial trailer, and they lift this movie high above any thoughtless blockbuster.

In a somewhat unrelated note, it may be worth mentioning that I saw this movie in the same theater as Roger Ebert, whose review can be found here. Unlike him, I chose to keep the title’s punctuation intact.

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