• Matt Miller

Movies you might've missed


Title: (500) Days of Summer (2009)

Directed: Marc Webb

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Rental: Available on Amazon, YouTube

Brief Synopsis: Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a greeting-card writer, is caught completely off-guard when his girlfriend, Summer (Zooey Deschanel), suddenly dumps him. Reflecting on their 500 days together, he tries to find where their relationship went wrong.

Scores: 7.7 IMDb 85% Rotten Tomatoes

Review: If you have partaken in the most recent social media trend of the ‘10 Year Challenge,’ how did it make you feel? Does 2009 really feel like it was 10 years ago? It’s hard to comprehend. As time marches forward, our memory, clarity, and opinions shift and change, and we can barely be sure of how events really occurred. Read any psychology study or report, and you will discover that our memories of moments can be changed dramatically with the passing of time. The events, sequence, and feelings of a previous decade are kept by the individual, with no context to really measure how they have altered. Our knowledge of the present influences our memories of the past, yet when watching film, memory is usually shown as linear and rigid. Characters don’t usually change unless something major happens to them, and their views on others do the same. Their memories of previous scenes are usually clear, and the audience takes them as a reliable narrator for events. As I reminisced about 10 years ago, I remembered a brilliant exception to this rule: 2009’s (500) Days of Summer.

What makes (500) Days so unique is that the changes in Tom’s (Gordon-Levitt) memory and emotions are almost completely through healing and self-reflection. After a heart-breaking split from Summer (Deschanel), Tom revisits his memories, only to have them alter as he further processes his breakup. Parts of Summer that used to enamour Tom now fill him with frustration and we see the crumbling of his infatuation through brilliant juxtaposition between the ‘500 Days’ of their relationship. Rarely do we get to see such introspection from a film character.

In addition to this, (500) Days also challenges an annoying trope of the male-led rom-com genre: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG). For those unfamiliar with the term, MPDG refers to the trope of mysterious, desirable women, whose only purpose in the plot seems to be to coddle or inspire the soulful, disenfranchised male to chase their dreams. It is a shallow, wish-fulfilling fantasy for these men, as they are never forced to mature, learn from their mistakes, or even see these women as individuals. In the beginning, Tom idolizes Summer’s quirkiness, and the very fact she knows who ‘The Smiths’ are is all he needs to know about her personality. She is the solution to his dead-end job and failed dreams, yet he never really considers what her wishes are. As the movie progresses, Tom begins to realize it may not have been the MPDG’s fault after all and he may share some blame for the failed relationship. Will Tom reflect and learn from his mistakes? Just like the 10 Year Challenge, it’s easy to investigate your past and see what you want to see, but sometimes contemplation is much more worthwhile.

Best of luck on day 501.