(500) Days of Summer (Blu-ray)

(500) Days of Summer is the first screenplay by Neustader, based on his true life experience with a girl he met at the London School of Economics. Post relationship, his friends told him to channel his anguish in a screenplay, which he later showed the girl, who told him she sympathised with Tom, not recognising herself as Summer.

The film begins with an author’s note, that the movie is dedicated to "Jenny Beckman … bitch". Idealist Tom (Gordon-Levitt) falls madly in love with the fiercely independent Summer (Deschanel), who has never felt the need for a committed relationship. The films flits back and forth between the 500 days of Tom’s love for Summer; from when they met, their time in IKEA, the movies, the record store, to the breakdown, mixed with hope and heartbreak. It is a classic formula that has been done to death. The difference here is that there is a cheesy narrator, constantly reminding us that apparently, this is not a love story because the girl never falls in love.

Outside of the story, what does make the film special is its many quirky, montage-like features that seem to have not been used in commercial cinema for a very long time. The beautiful images and transitions produced by these effects are not surprising from a seasoned video director (Webb). The effects go beyond chaptering the film, because they are paramount in portraying Tom’s emotions. From the split-screen delusional ‘expectation’ vs. ‘reality’ scenario, to a somewhat surreal, happy street dance with an animated bird, to Tom watching a film, imagining himself actually on the big screen as the broken hero.

The soundtrack, filled with floaty indie classics, The Smiths, Regina Spektor and a splash of Carla Bruni, deserves a special mention. It complements the film and its characters beautifully, at all the right moments. Tom’s lingering glances at Summer, watching her instead of the movie at the cinema, utterly infatuated, make Gordon Levitt’s performance brilliant. The fact that he could easily be an awkward teenager undergoing first love, is an afterthought. Deschanel, is equally excellent as Summer, although that is the type of character she is best at… (500) Days of Summer is a journey through Tom's emotions and memories that ultimately lead him to learn something new about love. The film is very funny, but simultaneously, somewhat whimsical and weak. Nonetheless, I found the film truly irresistible and constantly entertaining.

EXTRAS ** Text On the plus side, there's the usual bonus DVD and digital copies of the film. Along with that, you get: Nine deleted and extended scenes; six conversations with Zooey and Joseph, where the pair sit in a "cafe" and chat about life, the universe and everything;  Bank Dance, a four-minute muical short about a bank robbery, starring Deschanel and Gordon-Levitt and directed by Webb; Mean’s Cinemash: Sid and Nancy/(500) Days of Summer; and a Music Video of Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap. But on the down side, The US Blu-ray release has a whole lot more extras that are not to be found here. Such as: an audio commentary with Webb and Gordon-Levitt; Not a Love Story, a making-of featurette; audition tapes; Summer at Sundance;  Summer Storyboards; and  Filmmaking Specials, with Webb talking about certain aspects of the film. So with all this material available, one has to ask why it wasn't included in the film's UK Blu-ray release?

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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