Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Summer Lovin’

(WARNING! Spoiler alert.)

I pity the fools who thought 500 Days Of Summer as a feel-good romantic comedy that screams, “date movie!” It’s not.

500 is a clever anti-date movie disguised as a date movie. Well, actually it isn’t disguised, really. In fact, even its marketing and trailer insist it’s not. The trailer says, “You should know upfront that this is not a love story.” The billboard says: “Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Girl does not.” Yet people like to dismiss those details.

Romantic Tom believes in Fate, Destiny and meeting the One. Flighty Summer doesn’t even believe in Love. But the two meet cute over The Smiths, and in the course of 500 days their relationship burns brightly then flames out.

The movie posits that people who think falling in love is “fate” or “Destiny” were brainwashed by romantic Hollywood movies. Then it plays around with the fact that it is a movie about a romance: it employs a narrative voice-over; it zips back and forth in time; and there’s this hilarious musical number featuring Daryl Hall & John Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” and an animated bird.

The opening narration mentions how Tom developed a belief in the One due to “early exposure to sad British pop music and a total mis-reading of the movie 'The Graduate'.” Later on Tom and Summer watch the movie, and the iconic end shot reduces Summer to tears. She got it.
(The iconic last shot from "The Graduate")

In one brilliantly subversive and hilarious sequence, the screen splits in two, showing the difference between expectations versus reality. There it seems like one is watching two movies at the same time, one by feel-good Hollywood and the other by an angst-filled independent filmmaker.

But what I found equally subversive about it is this: the movie actually sides with both points of view. In the end, there is a surprising reversal of roles that still felt real and true. And while some may call certain events as mere coincidence, others will insist in calling them fate or destiny.

Summer tells Tom, “You weren't wrong, Tom. You were just wrong about me.” In the end, it really depends on one’s point of view. Coincidence or fate?

Tom’s younger-in-years but older-in-thinking sister Rachel tells him: “Tom, I know you think she was the one, but I don't. Next time you look back, I think you should look again.” The last shot of the movie shows Tom looking straight at the theater audience.

Definitely, 500 Days Of Summer is a movie worth watching again and again, like, 500 times.


citybuoy said...

i really liked it too! bad trip lang because there was this annoying family behind me na dala na yata lahat ng plastic sa mundo at hobby nila mag-ingay. they were complaining incessantly about the non-linear storytelling. keso naguguluhan daw sila at ang boring. super bad trip. i'm gonna see it again when i'm convinced na everyone else has. haha

favorite part of the movie (thank u imdb)

Summer: I woke up one morning and I just knew.
Tom: Knew what?
Summer: What I was never sure of with you.

the barefoot baklesa said...

oh my... this movie... i have no words... just a smile across my face and feeling a little better about my humanity...

xtian1978ii said...

yehey! finally got myself and my partner tickets to see the movie

legis said...

i am a loyal follower of this blog and this will be my first time to post a comment. this is the most honest film ive seen so far.

joel, are you "tom" or "summer" in real life?

joelmcvie said...

@LEGIS: I was Tom for a long time. But then I grew up. I'm more of a Summer now, but I know better than to lead a Tom on.