(Jett is a Juror at this year’s Nashville Film Festival, (April 16th-23rd); he’ll be updating ‘The Film Talk’ throughout the Fest with thoughts on films seen both in and out of competition – as always Spoilers Ahoy)
Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn’t have fallen in love with?
Of course you have – the trick is to realise that the other person isn’t right for you, (or isn’t into you, or has issues or is wanted by the law, etc.), quickly. Identify and get out.
But that’s tough when you’re young and you’ve got all of that evolved genetic programming urging you to spawn. So you stay with this wrong person – and that’s a mistake – and, even though it may have been awful at the time perhaps you’ll be able to look back years later with some hindsight and laugh – that’s what the film makers try to do, successfully for the most part, with 500 Days of Summer.
500 Days, narrated by a mystery voice that veers dangerously close to twee, is the story of Tom, a young greeting card writer and his misadventure with a woman he shouldn’t be with. As this oft told tale story will itself, by definition, offer no surprises, the only interest comes from how it’s told.
* This film is so lovingly shot it may be the only film lensed in LA that actually makes you want to live there.
* 500 Days is the best film about architecture in Los Angeles since ‘The Grifters’. Tom wanted to be an architect and since this is a voyage of self-discovery pic and is set in LA there is only one place he can end up; you film buffs know what I mean, (hint: He’s seen things you people wouldn’t believe.)
* Wow Joseph Gordon-Levitt is good. The camera loves him and his wide, innocent smile will make the matronly types in the audience want to grab him off the screen to save him from a lady who, frankly, just doesn’t like him really in that way.
* It’s funny, with great one-liners throughout and a killer close.
* The pic suffers from ‘Music Video Director Disease’, (see any film by McG for example); meaning that while individual scenes are great the pacing is off, (the structure of the film doesn’t help here – the movie jumps back and forth in time, with handy animated titles, yet we have no guide to why the pic makes these choices), so it feels a good twenty minutes longer than its actual running time – the sense of length doesn’t jibe too well with the light touch of the framing and cinematography.
Actually it’s not fair to use the term ‘child actor’ since we wouldn’t expect children to be expert in other fields, (how’s that new child pilot working out for you Bob?), so I’m not going to say that Chloe Moretz playing Tom’s young sister is bad. It’s just that her mannered delivery was like nails on a chalkboard to me and she’s been saddled with that hoariest of cinematic cliches: the child who’s wise beyond her years, (this can also be swapped out in any film of this type with the aged person who talks about sex in an embarrassing manner).
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Bottom line: Some people on the Net are comparing 500 Days to ‘Annie Hall’ – and the comparisons aren’t too wide of the mark – except that ‘Hall’ was made in a decade when movies were often produced for adults – the characters in 500 Days just aren’t just ten or twenty years younger than those in Woody Allen’s pic – they feel like they will never actually reach that level of maturity ever. This is not necessarily a bad thing – it just reflects the long adolescence that the youth have these days, (reflection of a extended life-span?).
So this is a film for young people – but it’s a smarter one than most and if you’re older and feel like remembering the mistakes of your youth, (but seen through magical glasses that make everything just that much more funny and whimsical), than you should see it.
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’500 Days of Summer’ opens on Limited Release in the United States this July