It’s been said that (500) Days of Summer is a guy’s romantic comedy, which is to say, it’s not that romantic. But I would beg to differ.
Fact is, guys can be romantic, too — or did you never see The Graduate? That film’s obsessiveness for soulmates, in fact, forms the inspiration for Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Brick in Summer, a greetings card writer who falls for Zooey Deschanel’s Summer, a retro beauty out of the Katie Perry school. She says up-front she’s not into serious relationships, but he can’t help it: He loves her. That’s not romantic?
The film is a fragmented (by counting various days in the 500-day relationship) yet without being uneven, because its characters steadily ring true. There’s wit and humor, along with fanciful flourishes, such as animation and an elaborate musical number out of the blue. It’s also creatively staged, using the outskirts of downtown LA as a setting and a backdrop–and when has that been done? It’s another side of LA which befits Brick’s architect wannabe character — especially in the final scene, shot in LA’s Bradbury Building, the gloriously wrought-iron site of shoots ranging from Blade Runner to the ’60s Outer Limits. (I’ve visited that building, which — while not on the nicest street in LA — is a classy architectural marvel.)
The music — a mix of old and new pop and rock — is astutely chosen, and the actors shine — even those in the thankless “friend” roles. (Brick has them, though Summer doesn’t–see, it IS a guy movie.)
Brick even takes Summer to a retrospective of The Graduate, whose ending seems to throw her off. After all, there’s a world of uncertainty in the reckless liberation of Ben and Elaine boarding a bus in flight from her wedding. But behind that scene in the sense that what matters in life isn’t ceremonies or materialism or status or “plastics,” but love, true love. That’s what Brick believes he has found, and his sheer resolve to find it forms this film’s triumph, and makes it a romance, indeed.