Sunday 15 February 2015

Review: 500 Days Of Summer

I can't believe I haven't seen…

500 Days Of Summer Poster

500 Days Of Summer (2009)
Cert: 12 / 93 mins / Dir. Marc Webb / Trailer
WoB Rating: 3/7

Prior to this evening, I'd been asked occasionally (irregularly certainly, but more than once) if I'd seen 500 Days Of Summer. My answer, as the header-image of this review would suggest, was 'no'. Not for any real reason as such, but like so many films which are widely enjoyed and respected by my contemporaries, it just hadn't crossed my path and I saw no real reason to seek it out. In fact, the arguments for and against watching the film were pretty much this:
For: The film stars Zooey Deschanel.
Against: The film stars Zooey Deschanel.

Now, it's not that I actively dislike the actress, singer and fringe-model, but I've really got to be in the mood for her work, since I find her a bit one-note. And also because Cariad Lloyd pretty much irreversibly hits the nail on the head, here. Anyway, now that I've watched the film, I can reveal that there are actually more arguments for and against watching 500 Days Of Summer

For: Joseph Gordon-Levitt being 50% quietly charming, 50% introspective.
Against: Zooey Deschanel being 30% cute, 70% irritating.

For: The film takes a fresh, outsiders' view on relationships in the 21st century.
Against: Because couples walking glassy-eyed around Ikea had never been used as a heavy-handed symbol of the decline of spontaneity before 2009.

For: The film features Poison on the soundtrack.
Against:The film features The Smiths on the soundtrack.

For: The film's non-linear approach to storytelling is an interesting device.
Against: …which becomes annoying after about half an hour with the apparency that it's preventing any narrative-flow

For: The film's non-linear approach to storytelling means that the characters can display complex and varied personalities from the start of the film.
Against: …and that you can have a rom-com with All The Whining™ throughout the entire film, rather than just in the third act.*1

For: The film's eclectic soundtrack is almost a character in its own right.
Against: …to the point where it's basically used instead of writing dialogue.

For: The film has ushered cinema on from mainstream twee rom-coms like Four Weddings…
Against: …and has wedged the door open for mainstream emotionally-stunted rom-coms like What If.

So it turns out the actual reason I'd never seen 500 Days of Summer before is that it was exactly as I'd suspected it would be: Like being trapped on a long bus journey sat next to an unbearably self-indulgent hipster who won't shut up about the bands you've never heard of, but is still the only other person on the bus you'd want to sit next to anyway.

Because when the interviewee introduces herself at the end of the film and Joseph Gordon-Levitt smirks directly into the camera, I shouldn't say "Oh, fuck off" out loud, should I..?

What it ultimately comes down to is:

For: The film stars Zooey Deschanel.
Against: The film stars Zooey Deschanel.

Like the central character Tom, I've come so far only to learn what I already knew…

Have you really never seen this before?
Nope, really never.

So are you glad you've finally have?
Well, I'm glad I can now tell people that 'yes, I've seen it' and then proceed to annoy them with my opinions on it?

And would you recommend it, now?
Oh, if the film's your thing then you've already seen it, I have no doubt of that.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There ain't.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
The film features a split-second cameo from Yavin Throne-room Celebration Han Solo.

Too linear? Okay, Joseph Gordon-Levitt starred in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, as did Jamie King, the voice of Aurra Sing in Star Wars: The Clone Wars

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 I know it's not really a 'romantic comedy' in the traditional mould, either in the sense of romance nor indeed comedy, but it's one of those comedies which you're not meant to really laugh at; more sit smiling wryly at, revelling in how clever you are for finding it amusing. Yeah, whatever.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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