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(500) Days of Summer

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(500) Days of Summer

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in '(500) Days of Summer'

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel light up the screen in Marc Webb's directorial debut (500) Days of Summer. That might sound corny, but they do.
The story of Tom (Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Deschanel) begins at the end, first introducing us to Tom, heartbroken, after the breakup, downing a water glass full of vodka. Then (500) Days of Summer leaps backwards through time to the actual breakup over pancakes and sausage in a diner, and then back further again, to when the young couple meets. There is no anticipating the forward or backward direction, but flipping numbers between each scene illuminates where the couple stands in terms of their brief relationship.

Throughout, we are treated to small, perfect moments: Tom and Summer's first conversation in an elevator, a night of drunken kaoroke, sexual tension on a model bed in an IKEA storeroom. These scenes -- and many others -- are funny and lovely. At one point, Tom provides a list of what, exactly, he loves about Summer: her eyes, her knees, her laugh; later, we see the same images again when Tom describes what, exactly, he doesn't like about Summer: her eyes, her knees, her laugh.

As Summer, Deschanel sports her glorious trademark bangs and wise-beyond-her-years air. Gordon-Levitt, a young actor known for the intensity of his performances, plays Tom with a puppydog, earnest quality. He is boyish and cute. They seem terrific together, but Summer tells Tom from the start that she doesn't believe in love. Tom ignores the warning signals, and because the film is told through Tom's point of view, it is the audience's job to believe Tom and believe in their relationship. What Summer eventually chooses is the one weak plot point to an otherwise almost perfect film.

To end this review, however, I'd like to skip back, away from the slightly unfortunate ending, to the film's glorious middle -- the film's most perfect moment when all was right in Tom's world. It's the morning after their first time having sex, and Tom leaves his apartment, ridiculously happy. In a hilarious and ebullient sequence, Gordon-Levitt sings and dances through the streets of Los Angeles to the Hall and Oates song "You Make My Dreams Come True." A growing chorus of strangers joins in, one by one, crowding the screen, for a traditional Hollywood dance number. His joy is that infectious; the film is that infectious.

(500) Days of Summer (2009)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Geoffrey Arend, Chloe Grace Moretz, Matthew Gray Gubler
Directed by: Marc Webb
Produced by: Mark Waters, Jessica Tuchinsky, Mason Novick
Running Time: 1 hr. 35 min.
Release Date: July 17th, 2009 (limited)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sexual material and language.
Distributors: Fox Searchlight Pictures
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