Star Rating:

500 Days Of Summer

Director: Marc Webb

Actors: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Geoffrey Arend

Release Date: Friday 7th August 2009

Genre(s): Drama, Factual, Romance

Running time: 95 minutes

A great movie is something special, isn't it? A great movie can lift falling spirits, make your whole weekend and convince you that life isn't all that bad. It can make you wish that you were friends with the characters. A great movie gives you the same feelings when you meet someone new: there's a warm fuzzy sensation in your stomach, you want to tell your friends all about it and you can't wait to see it again - 500 Days Of Summer is that movie. "You should know this is not a love story," goes the opening Wes Anderson-like narration. It could have fooled me.

Spoiled by years of listening to dour '80s British pop like Joy Division and The Smiths and a total misreading of The Graduate, Tom (Levitt) feels that he'll never be happy until he finds 'the one'. The one just might be Summer (Deschanel), the new secretary who has just started work in the greeting card company where Tom works. Summer might be a Smiths fan but she doesn't believe in love...

I've been waiting 20 years for another Say Anything and it's finally here. Levitt takes his cue from Lloyd Dobbler, John Cusack's hopeless romantic in Cameron Crowe's 1989 outing, the (until now) quintessential post high school romantic drama. Like Say Anything the roles are reversed: Levitt's lovelorn and utterly likeable Tom is the one looking for true love, to settle down. Deschanel is the Diane Court of the piece - she isn't sure about her suitor, she can be a bit of a cold fish and a tad standoffish. But unlike Ione Skye, she's playing a likeable girl - you can really see why Levitt likes her (and not just because she's into The Smiths). Levitt and Deschanel are flawless in the roles; boasting real sexual chemistry, they make a cute couple. Say Anything isn't the only influence, however.

Using the fractured, non-linear timeline of Annie Hall, 500 Days Of Summer skips through the good and bad times of the relationship - how they meet is followed by the break up and everything in between. It perfectly captures how one remembers a broken relationship; how one would flip through memories trying to pinpoint the moment when it started go wrong. Director Marc Webb knows that rom-coms are ten-a-penny but he still finds some originality: a special sequence sees Tom arriving at Summer's house party, a sequence shot in split screen - one half is 'expectations', the other half 'reality. So real, so clever, so touching. Webb shows restraint too: any other director would demand that Deschanel wear a pink stripe through her hair or standing blindfold on the edge of an overpass or something equally daft to reinforce that Summer is wild and unattainable. Not here. All Summer does is quietly repeat that she doesn't want to 'put a label' on the relationship, she doesn't want to be someone's girlfriend or 'somebody's anything'. It's to Tom's detriment that he doesn't listen. Where Webb shows self-control in most scenes, he lets loose with a Disney-esque song-and-dance number (to Hall & Oates' You Make My Dreams Come True) that includes an animated bird. Lovely.

500 Days Of Summer is funny, sad, sweet, smart, believable and it's got a kick ass soundtrack. You can't ask for more.