Movie Monday: 500 Days of Summer (2009)

Once again as an effort to blog more I have decided to do yet another themed day.  Movie Monday.  Each Monday I will review a movie that I have recently seen.  It won’t be a professional review, by any means, but I will give my thoughts and feelings on the movie, the actors, everything about it.  If there are any movies you would like me to see and/or review, please feel free to comment on one of these posts, or send a message via my Ask Me. So, without any further ado, this week’s review for Movie Monday!

Movie Title: 500 Days of Summer
Movie Release Date:  August 7, 2009
Primary Cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel
Plot Summary (via IMDB): “An offbeat romantic comedy about a woman who doesn’t believe true love exists, and the young man who falls for her.”
Genres: Drama, Romance, Comedy

Review: I love Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  He is an extremely talented actor, very smart about choosing his roles, and though I can’t say because I have never met him in person, he seems like a genuinely kind and intelligent guy.  Thus 500 Days of Summer has been on my list for quite sometime.  But let me tell you, my list of movies to watch is quite long, and to be honest, there were many movies above this one.  This last summer, however, during a conversation about actors that we love, one of my coworkers told me that I need to see 500 Days of Summer, NOW.  She told me it was one of the absolute best movies of 2009, and if you love JGL, then this movie was a must see.  So, with her urging, I stuck it in my Netflix queue.  There were still a couple of movies I needed to watch before it.  I finally receive 500 Days of Summer in the mail in October.  But then things got a bit crazy and busy (losing my job, job searching, starting a new job).  The movie sat there, unopened in its little Netflix envelope for months.  It wasn’t until my boyfriend reminded me that it was sitting our bookshelf a couple of days into this new year that I finally watched it.  And boy, it was worth it.

Beware, there are some spoilers.  Let me begin with the story.  The opening sequence begins with narrator stating that “This is a story of boy meets girl, but you should know upfront, this is not a love story.”  Right then my heart sank just a little.  I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be the happy ending I would be wanted.  And guess what, it wasn’t.  But!  With that being said, the story (and ending) was exactly how it should have been.  From the start the relationship of Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is fraught with turmoil.  While there are moments of happiness for the two lovebirds, from the beginning it is doomed.  From the start Summer stated that she doesn’t believe in love, and that she doesn’t want a relationship, yet Tom still persists.  As the viewer you hope that he and Summer will end up happily ever after (how can you not when Zooey Deschanel is just so adorable), yet you know that, deep down, it won’t happen.  And yes, that saddened me, yet I persisted on, hoping that by the end, no matter what happened, I would have enjoyed the movie.  After Tom learns that Summer is engaged to be married, after telling him repeatedly that she would never do so, he falls into a pit of sadness and depression.  While you feel bad for him you also can’t help but think “I told you so.”  The signs were there all along, why couldn’t he see them?  Furthermore, you are left wondering, how could Summer have changed her mind so radically? As the movie is obviously drawing to a close you do find out, and when you do, it is heartbreaking.  Running into each other in the park Tom asks her why she changed her mind.

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

At this point my boyfriend had joined me in bed while I was watching this.  Those three lines were spoken and he went “Ouch.”  And frankly, that was the best way to describe the interaction that has just occurred between the two characters.  Summer, having once never believed in love, is now happily married and deeply in love.  Tom, once a believer in true love and fate, now believes that things don’t happen for a reason, that fate does not exist, and that everything is just a coincidence.  So will Tom ever find happiness?  It is a good question, and though we can’t say for sure, when he meets a beautiful young girl interviewing for the same job as him, appropriately named Autumn, we see that even though there may not be such a thing as fate, sometimes coincidences can result in happiness.

While the story may not have been how I would write it, and definitely not how I wanted it to end, it was appropriate, and frankly, it seemed well written.  But this is not what made the movie so enjoyable.  What made the movie enjoyable was the absolutely fantastic acting.  This movie was definitely an “indie flick”, and it is well-known that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel are “indie actors”.  But it was more than that.  Their personal quirks seemed to play absolutely perfectly into their characters.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt played Tom spot on, from the happy and ridiculously in love puppy dog, to the depressed and lonely brokenhearted boy.  And Zooey, oh Zooey.  She plays these quirky, adorable, endearing characters so well.  And even though she broke Tom’s heart, you can’t help but still love her and wish her character nothing but happiness.  In addition to the great acting by the lead actors, the supporting cast, particularly Tom’s best friends, played by Geoffrey Arend and Matthew Gray Grubler, was outstanding.  Every scene these guys were in, they stole the show.

So the story, the acting…How about the direction?  Well I can’t really say too much about this, as I know little about it, but since I enjoyed the story, I enjoyed the acting, and I in general liked the entire movie, I am going to say the direction was well done.  The film seemed to always be moving forward (even when it was actually going back in time, since it was a non-sequential storyline), and there was never a moment where I was bored or hoping things would hurry along.  While I of course wanted to know the ending (I needed to know if JGL would find happiness) I enjoyed the journey and the story of how we got there.

To sum it up, this is a movie I absolutely recommend and I give it an A- (IMDB gives it an 8/10).  Though it is not your traditional love story and does not fall into the traditional romantic comedy or drama category, it holds its own as a fun and enjoyable indie flick.  If you love non-traditional love stories, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel or indie movies, then this is a movie for you.  But beware, you may be in tears by the end.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ashkir
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 19:27:00

    As of late, Sundance Film Festival has some really great movies that were introduced. At first I was skeptical about the film and all, but I finally sat down and watched it not long ago when the new Sundance movies were released on demand.

    I enjoyed it, but it isn’t something I’d watch over, and over, and over again. I am curious if we’d see a 500 days of autumn sequel now :P.

    It was good, and well done, and a great one time watch.

    Great movie review Kate! 🙂


    • Kat
      Jan 10, 2011 @ 21:20:04

      I kind of want to see a sequel too, except I just want it to be called “Eternally Autumn”, cause he stays with her forever.

      And thank you for the compliment!


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  3. Michael G.
    Jan 10, 2011 @ 20:13:36

    One of the best romantic comedies of recent memory. A brilliant movie.


    • Kat
      Jan 10, 2011 @ 21:19:08

      I completely and utterly agree! Michael, do you mind if I add you to my list of “With Purpose” blogs? I really like the idea behind your blog and would love to put it on my list.


  4. ohsaycanyousay
    Jan 11, 2011 @ 09:18:03

    You just love Zooey. 😀


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  6. Michael G.
    Jan 11, 2011 @ 22:19:28

    It would be my pleasure. Thank you!


  7. angelanoel
    Jan 12, 2011 @ 10:20:30

    I have to say I disagree with you. I really did not enjoy this movie. Something about the jumping back and forward in time just plain drove me nuts. Plus, I felt like there were parts of the story missing. You could fill in these parts in your mind but, I don’t know, it just wasn’t my thing.

    [And now I feel horrible. First comment on your blog and what do I do – I disagree.]


    • Kate
      Jan 12, 2011 @ 10:31:23

      If everyone agreed with me I would wonder if there is was something in the water!

      I can completely understand where you are coming from. This movie definitely isn’t for everyone, and perhaps I would have liked a sequential movie even more than I did this one. The jumping all over can be a bit confusing, especially if you are even the slightest bit distracted.

      Do you have any movies you recommend I watch and review? I am always open for suggestions!


      • angelanoel
        Jan 12, 2011 @ 10:38:41

        I’m racking my brain, trying to think of the last few movies I’ve seen. Almost none are even closely related to 500 Days: Beauty and the Beast, Hunt for Red October, Star Wars VI. Hehe. I feel like I’m catching up on things everyone else saw years ago (though B&B is a re-watch for probably the 100th time).

        In terms of newer movies, I’d probably say Outsourced. It’s the movie the new show in the US is based on, though the TV show is very different. It’s a cute romantic comedy / fish out of water tale that won Sundance, I believe.

      • Kate
        Jan 12, 2011 @ 10:45:43

        It doesn’t have to be like 500 Days of Summer at all! I will give almost any movie genre and thus movie a try at least once. Beauty & the Beast is a fantastic movie, though I will admit Aladdin will always be my favorite Disney movie. You know, I have never seen Hunt for Red October, I really should. I think I will add that to my Netflix. And I think I have seen every Star Wars (the originals) at least a dozen times, but you know what? That doesn’t make them any less awesome.

        Right now I have The Time Traveler’s Wife waiting for me at home, so hopefully that is a good movie. I know the book is absolutely fantastic, and I have heard some good things about the movie.

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