500 Days of Summer DVD review

500 Days of Summer is released on DVD this week. Should you splash the cash?

4/5
DirMarc Webb US (TBA)

Where did it all go wrong? One minute you’re in love, the next it’s all over. In this rom-com-as-postmortem, greeting-card writer Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tries to pinpoint the key moments in his ill-fated liaison with co-worker Summer (Zooey Deschanel), as the movie toggles hither and thither across individually numbered days in lieu of a familiar linear trajectory. When a stentorian omniscient voiceover announces that ‘this is not a love story’, it’s easy to figure we’re in for another dose of smugly hermetic US indie-cool, yet no matter how clever-clever Marc Webb’s film gets (and it does), it never overwhelms the subtle registration of this young man’s bitter yet enriching learning curve – it takes a broken heart to shatter our youthful illusions about love and prepare us for clear-eyed, grown-up romance.

Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel are simply ideal as these bright young things: he always suggests that fires are burning beneath that deadpan wit and forbidding exterior, while she does the combination of pixie-ish Lorelei and withholding emotional sphinx to a tee. Their workplace affair is believable, though perhaps the problem with Scott Neustader and Michael H Weber’s otherwise peppy script is that it relies on a shared nexus of pop culture references (The Smiths, perhaps inevitably) in lieu of individual chemistry, and flings in smart pastiche (Gallic art-movie torpor, a colourful Demy-esque dance number) when it might have delivered more authentic passion. So, if it just misses being this generation’s Annie Hall, it’s still deliciously refreshing, sweet and fizzy. A sherbet dip of a movie.
Trevor Johnston

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