Sunday, August 16, 2009

(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer (Marc Webb, 2009) [6]

It's a testament to how shitty the romantic comedy genre is that a film that does anything out of convention gets big accolades. (500) Days of Summer certainly isn't a standard rom-com but it still has a lot of elements of that genre running through. Quirky characters, a non-linear structure, or a dance sequence to Hall & Oates isn't going to make it otherwise. One of the problems I have when trying to wrap up my thoughts on a film like this is how much I dislike film like these. Not dislike from being a romantic comedy but being another "off-beat" Fox Searchlight film that are supposedly indies but are just mainstream fare with something different. With the exception of the second half of Juno, I find these films to be nothing exciting, challenging, or interesting.

The one saving grace of (500) Days of Summer are the performances of its two leads: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel. Their characters and the situations around them are rooted in much of the cliches that make up the romantic comedy genre, but each give off enough likability that they let it pass. Gordon-Levitt especially, as the mopey dope who believes in true love, knows when to be subtle and reign in moments that easily could have been too much. Deschanel's performance is good mostly because she's been playing a variation of the same character in almost every other film she's in. And there are plenty of moments between the two that are cringe-worthy for someone like myself who doesn't like a lot of this stuff. Yet, through Webb's consistent handling of the characters and the material, there's just enough serious understanding and examination of relationships and what love means that make me not dislike it. Unlike most films of its sort, it tries to address the audience in an intelligent way about its story and characters. And for that, it deserves some credit.

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