Tuesday, October 13, 2009

500 Days of Summer – the Foldees review

First, why are we choosing to review this movie? We don’t usually review stuff here on the Foldees blog, but there are two good reasons why I’m starting now.

One. In Malaysia (our home country), it’s only showing in one cinema (UPDATE: now showing at KLCC as well as Sunway. Whee!). Yup… one. And if you ask me, not really in its target demographical area (no offense to denizens of Sunway :)). Part of the reason we love what we do here at Foldees is that it promotes underappreciated artists like yourselves, which is, in our own small way, why we’re reviewing this movie.

Two. The lead character makes greeting cards!

and Two and a half. I used to do this (review movies .. and cars, games, phones, PDAs…etc) for a living, so I kinda miss it. Indulge me.

So here we go.


As the title indicates, the movie, told from the perspective of Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a young man, spans the 500 days of his involvement with a girl called Summer (Zooey Deschanel).

Tom, is a young man who, like alot of young men in this day and age, believes that his happiness lies in finding The One. One day, a new girl joins his greeting card company, named Summer. Upon observing that…

A. She is attractive


B. She likes the same music as he does…

…he does what alot of guys i know do, and falls hopelessly in love with her. He chooses to challenge the fact that Summer, the product of divorced parents, believes that committed relationships are doomed to fail once both parties settle into reality.

The gravely Morgan Freeman-esque narrator warns you up front, that it might not be a happy ending. This sets the tone for the movie, which jumps non-linearly from day 42 to day 1 to day 387 and so forth. However, unlike some movies, the time-hopping gimmick isn’t just to give the film its “indie-ness”, but to illustrate the changes in dynamic that happen over the course of a relationship.

For instance, one scene shows how a simple trip to IKEA for the couple was so much fun early in the relationship, and almost heartbreakingly please-move-on-to-the-next-scene-quick towards the end of it. It is these timely observations that make 500 Days sometimes seem like a relationship documentary, observing the plight of Tom Hansen like a chimp in its journey to find a mate.

However, don’t let that last comment make you think this is a boring observational movie. The sharp script, Ally-McBeal like surrealistic visual touches, the awesome soundtrack and incredibly charming characters make this one movie that will charm its way into your heart over a scant 93 minutes.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is boyishly charming, but with a flawed everyman quality that reminds me of John Cusack. We particularly love that he works as a copywriter for a greeting card company, so you can imagine how the words on the cards vary according to which stage of the relationship he’s in. Zooey Deschanel, whom i’ve never heard of before this movie, plays Summer perfectly, as the exact kind of girl that guys get their hearts broken on. The supporting cast, although fleeting, are also very very good.

The movie isn’t perfect though, with an ending that seems a bit too contrived in contrast to the very real feelings portrayed throughout the rest of the movie. Also, one happy dance number stretched a wee bit too long for my liking.

However, much like the girl you’re pining for, the rest of it’s so irresistible that you’re more than happy to forgive her for talking a bit of sweet nonsense just before you send her home.


Guess what? I’m not the only Foldeesian to review this movie! Also check out this review from ZacYouth!


Iva said...

I love this movie... The guy who wrote the story is from the town I live in ( Margate NJ). In the movie, the main character, who makes greeting cards is from Margate too. When I was working on my card for the Christmas competition I thought exactly of this movie :)) Seeing this blog is like Deja Vu or something. Thank you for spreading the word about 500 days of Summer. I've seen it 4 times now and it is an unbelievable experience.

chak said...

Heya Iva!

We try...

Apparently now it's showing in two cinemas instead of one, so score one for Foldees (and all the other people who complained as well!)

Jasz said...

I watched this movie last night - and in doing so gave up free tickets to watch Inglorious Basterds. Somehow, I feel it was worth it.

chak said...

good trade, i reckon.

Besides, Inglorious Basterds would be censored to oblivion in our local cinema.