500 Days of Summer DVD review

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

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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