Saturday, August 8, 2009

(500) Days of Summer (2009) - Marc Webb

(500) Days of Summer (2009)
Director: Marc Webb
Writers: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler, Clark Gregg, Patricia Belcher, Rachel Boston, Minka Kelly

(500) Days of Summer (2009) lets you know what to expect from it pretty early on. The film opens with the following title cards:
- Author's Note: The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

- Especially you Jenny Beckman.

- Bitch.
With that, you can tell that this is not going to be your typical Hollywood romantic comedy. And as if to cement that notion into your head an added voice over narration tells us that even though this may look like a love story, it is not. However knowing that up front in no way makes this film predictable.

This film does not follow the normal pattern of the Hollywood romantic comedy. Your typical Hollywood romance goes like this; 1 - Boy falls for Girl. 2 - Girl falls for Boy. 3 - Boy does something to royally screw things up. 4 - After much soul searching (and usually some form of personal humiliation) Boy convinces Girl to take him back. 5 - Movies ends and we are to assume that Boy and Girl live happily ever after.

The relationship between Summer (The beautiful Zooey Deschanel) and Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) plays out more like a real relationship than one that normally takes place in a movie. There are good times, there are bad times and in the end it is either going to work out or it isn't. It isn't going to follow some predetermined set of rules though because no two relationships are the same and very few follow the Hollywood pattern.

There are a few things that make this movie as wonderful as it was. To begin with, it had a wonderful script. It told a wonderful story and there was a lot of witty and fun dialog in the film but not so witty that it seemed fake (I'm looking at you, Juno*). However, as great as the script was it took really good actors to pull it off and Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt play their characters perfectly. On top of that they also have a great on screen chemistry and this helps the audience to really feel the ups and downs in the relationship along with them.

This was director Marc Webb's first feature film and he does a really good job. I did notice the mark of the first time director here and there but not enough to really make a difference on the quality of the film. As with a lot of first time directors there are parts of the film that seem to be there just to be cool. However, considering that the film had kind of a goofy sense of humor about itself these parts were not as noticeable as they usually are in a director's first films. Overall I think Webb did a very good job bringing the story to life and I can't wait to see what he does next.

Webb also seemed to take a lot of inspiration from Woody Allen. This isn't just because of the way he chose to show romance in a different way than most Hollywood films. He also seemed to take a lot of inspiration from how Woody Allen incorporates locations in his films. Woody Allen loves New York and it shows in his films. Marc Webb seemed to have the same love for Los Angeles in this film, making the city look beautiful for the audience. Beyond that Webb also seemed borrow Woody Allen's habit of borrowing directly from Ingmar Bergman. Marc Webb used these homages to Bergman to add some very enjoyable humor to the film.

Overall I think this was a very wonderful film. The entire cast had great chemistry together. You could tell that Marc Webb was really interested in telling this story and you can really see in the film how much fun was had making it. From the start of the film the characters draw you in and even though the film tells you what to expect from the beginning it is never predictable and may actually surprise you in a few places.

Rating: 8/10

* Don't get me wrong, I thought Juno was a lot of fun but the dialog did come across as fake quite a bit.


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