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Anti-romance Days of Summer a loving liaison
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Anti-romance Days of Summer a loving liaison

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN Contributing Writer

(500) Days of Summer
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Young, wannabe architect turned greeting card writer Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has just met the girl he believes is the one he will be with forever. Her name is Summer (Zooey Deschanel), and she is his office's new free-spirited secretary, and he's sure that if he can get her to notice him, the two of them will undoubtedly spend the rest of their lives cuddling in one another's arms.

What happens next is not your typical love story. With (500) Days of Summer, director Marc Webb has crafted what can only be described as the anti-romantic comedy. This movie is about the evolution and the reasons behind a breakup. More, it is also about the devastation it leaves behind for Tom, the man so enraptured with the woman who stole his heart he becomes obsessed with discovering why things fell apart and how he can piece them back together again.

What is remarkable - that description notwithstanding - is that the resulting film is easily one of the most rapturous and romantic that I have seen in ages. Webb put the screws to me and I went from being in a state of total wide-eyed bliss to a massive puddle of emotionally overwhelming tears all the way back to rapturous giggles of blubbering happiness. As seen through Tom's eyes, this is a coming-of-age story everyone who has ever loved, lost and managed to pick themselves off of the ground and love again will relate to, its perceptive insights so eerily accurate it's almost unnerving.

What's great is how unforced it all feels. The movie is told in a non-linear fashion as Tom bounces back and forth throughout the relationship tracking its rises and falls playing detective trying to ascertain where things went off the rails. It goes from animated comedic pratfalls to bracing Douglas Sirk-style melodrama at the drop of the hat, hitting all the points in-between with relative ease.

In other words, Webb manages to get the script, from writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber's (both of whom scandalously also wrote The Pink Panther 2, a fact I find difficult to believe), spot-on in tone and intricacy. The transitions from one vignette to the next are impeccable, editor Alan Edward Bell (Hoot) doing a great job making it all feel completely seamless. The filmmakers are at the top of their respective games, and every piece of this puzzle fits perfectly with the ones surrounding it.

This wouldn't matter at all if the actors weren't up to snuff, and to say that both Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel are not would be a total lie. They ooze a kind of chemistry you just can't fake, seeing the two disparate souls together about as glorious a thing this side of Judy Holliday and William Holden discussing Abraham Lincoln. It didn't seem like either of them were acting, and while I'd hesitate to say this is the best they've ever been (he knocked it out of the park in The Lookout, while she was positively Oscar-worthy in All the Real Girls) that doesn't make their collective achievement any less superlative.

I'm trying to find things about the film that I didn't like, and while I know there were moments here and there I wasn't wholly happy with, trying to recollect them now is bordering on the impossible. All that's floating around in my brain are the good things about Webb's debut, so many positives fighting for me to talk about them I can't begin to sort all of them out into a printable cohesive thought.

The bottom line is that (500) Days of Summer is delightful and that it knows more about love (and loss) then anything that has come out of a major Hollywood studio this year. It is an emotional saga of heartbreak and euphoria I utterly adored, and even after three viewings I can't wait to return to the theater opening weekend and see it again.

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