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500 Days of Summer

Year: 2009
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Director: Marc Webb
Writer: Scott Neustadter/Michael H Weber
Cast: Joseph Gordon Leavitt, Zooey Deshcanel
Spoiler
Spoiler!

There's not much you can do with the love story that hasn't been done time and time again since Shakespeare.

Actually there is one thing you can do, and (500) Days of Summer does it. From Shakespeare onward (probably several millennia before that, actually) our stories from talking round the fire after the hunt to the days when we have electrical currents directed straight into the synapses of our brain have been and will continue to be about falling in love with someone beautiful and them loving you back.

It's in real life rather than movies and literature that we fail to find love, because our stories are where we dream the kind of lives we want. This neat, cute, clever little movie isn't the first one about falling in love with someone who doesn't love you back, just look at everything from Casablanca to St Elmo's Fire. But it's not only the best example of the very sparse genre in a long time but the best romantic comedy (an overcrowded genre most of the time) in ages too.

Mostly bored Gen Xer Tom (Leavitt) dropped out of architecture to work as a greeting card writer, but when the delectable Summer (Deschanel) shows up at work as his boss' new assistant, she's all the inspiration he needs. He falls head over heels for the quirky beauty, and their relationship is something very different to each of them.

Tom's ready to get married, have children and live in bed for the rest of their lives. Summer doesn't believe in love and to her it's a little bit of fun. Things inevitably go sour and we spend the film flitting back and forth over the 500 days of the relationship showing everything from the fresh hope and optimism of falling in love to the frustration that it's not going to go the way you want.

A few touches like Tom's kid sister giving precocious relationship advice are missteps, but what the film says with its likeable leads more than makes up for it.

It also manages to be movie sweet and real life bitter at the same time, not completely grinding our nose in the inevitable resulting misery but not tying multiple plot threads up with a neatly tied bow either.

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