Tom Hansen is a loser. There’s no other description that fits him. In matters of love, Tom is a mega loser. He falls for a girl that doesn’t actually believe in relationships, which dooms them from the start. But Tom is so blinded by love that he can’t admit that his ‘thing’ with Summer Finn is totally dysfunctional, doomed and a disaster. Summer is like his own personal crack, great while things are buzzing but the crash is hard. Nuclear bomb hard.
We flip back in forth through the days, taking them in by themes rather than just going straight through day 1 to day 500. We have the meet, the first day, the sex, the fun hanging out moments, the breakup, the remeet, the big hard break. The angst driven realization that life isn’t a greeting card (which leads to a huge emotional purge and Tom quitting). Mixed in is some humor, a lot of awkward moments, a few odd montages about true love, some great music and a omniscient voiceover that is rather odd and perhaps unneeded but at least isn’t every scene. And yes a montage of Tom’s journey to become the architect he always meant to be. A journey which actually leads to one last meet with Summer. The last day of Summer and the awkward reversal of Summer finding true love and Tom not sure he believes anymore. And then the 500th day with Tom, questioning his new ‘there’s no such thing as fate’ outlook, taking a chance on asking a new girl out (named Autumn, yuk yuk)
The movie itself is a disjointed and yet oddly satisfying journey through the ups and downs of the 500 days of Tom and Summer. Perhaps it is because most of us have experienced a similar journey. The blush of love, the confusion, the ups and downs. Perhaps despite being a total loser, Joseph infuses Tom with so much pathos that you can’t really diss on him for being pathetic. The supporting cast adds just the right amount of push, from the boss that puts clearly depressed Tom in the Sympathy card department to the kid sister who is the voice of reason, encouraging Tom to take a second look without the rosy eyes of true love. Like the voiceover, they are not overused (although perhaps underused a little).
On the directing front, Webb generally keeps things simple with lots of closeups and midshots to really focus on the action and reactions. He does toss in some bits of fun, like a quirky dance in the park scene when Tom realizes his totally in love with Summer. And a great shot of all the color in the world bleeding out and leaving behind only the empty shell of a line drawing as Tom falls out of love. Again, not overdone but adding just the right bit of fun.
Although it didn’t totally move my world and I’m not screaming Oscar noms, 500 Days was a fun little tale. A Solid 4 stars.