500 Days of Summer

500 Days of Summer

***1/2

“Everything happens for a reason” is a common expression. It isn’t true, though. Some things happen due to no other reason than simple, unexplainable chance.

To be sure, most events do follow a logical pattern. For example: when you go to the casino on pay day you generally end up with less money on Saturday than if you had deposited the paycheck into your checking account.

What happens on any given trip to the casino, though, is dictated entirely by the inexplicable whim of fortune.

If you think that there is a meaningful reason why the woman next to you hit the jackpot on her first quarter while your slot machine just ate your last $20, you are simply not willing to accept the fundamental randomness and unfairness of reality.

The incomprehensibility of the human condition is definitely on display in romantic relationships. We all invest so much time, thought, and energy into our relationships, but no one has ever come up with a satisfactory explanation as to why some work – and most fail miserably.

“500 Days of Summer” is a smart, insightful drama that explores the inner workings of a real world relationship and how magical and maddening love can be.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom, a pretty normal – though slightly depressed – young man. He develops a crush on the pretty new girl at work, Summer (Zooey Deschanel). They bond over a mutual love of the Smiths and begin dating.

Summer is the kind of girl who is joyful and fun-loving, but distant and emotionally guarded. She has put up walls to protect her heart that only someone making $150 an hour can even attempt to explain.

Summer informs Tom out of the blue that she likes him but is not looking for anything serious. Why does anyone choose begin a relationship by saying something so completely negative and counter-productive? I sure don’t know and neither does Tom.

Director Marc Webb breathes fresh new life into the tired romance genre by telling the story in a completely non-linear fashion. So it isn’t “boy meets girl, boy loses girl.” It’s more like “boy is devastated because his relationship has fallen apart; now let’s go back and see how that happened.”

Even as the story moved back and forth through time, I could always understand and relate to Tom’s experience. I felt his anxiety as the relationship began, and his euphoria as the relationship blossomed.

I understood his despair and confusion as the once happy love affair fell apart. What happened? What changed? Now matter how much Tom beats himself up over it, he will never know.

Tom is miserable. He has learned nothing. But he can’t wait to do the whole crazy thing over again with someone else.

“500 Days of Summer” is easily the best film about love and relationships that I have seen this year.

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