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500 Days of Story Telling

My daughter got the movie 500 Days of Summer for Christmas, and I watched it with her last night. It's a charming story, not quite a romantic comedy, even though it's funny and about love. But one reason I loved it was, the story telling in it made such good use of the medium of film.

This was not, as near as I can tell, a book translated to a movie. It was a story imagined and created as a film. The script uses several very clever devices.

First off, if you're not familiar with the story, Summer is a woman's name, and the entire movie is the story of 500 days of her relationship with a guy named Tom who wanted to be an architect but settled for writing greeting cards. I am not usually fond of high-overhead stories where the reader/viewer has to keep track of lots of info, but this movie made it fun. The number of the day of the relationship flashes on the screen— [1], [28], [3], etc. I'm making up that sequence, but the days are not shown sequentially and we jump back and forth in time, uncovering clues about what happens as we go. Summer cuts her hair toward the beginning and then lets it grow, which is another visual reminder of where we are in the story.

The story is also shown completely from Tom's point of view. We meet his friends, his hilarious and precocious little sister, and his boss, and see him at his job. For once it's the guy who wants a long term relationship; Summer says she doesn't want to be anyone's girlfriend. We actually see some scenes the way Tom feels rather than as reality. Tom's dance sequence their first "morning after" is utterly charming. We also see Tom's sketches of the LA landscape take over the whole screen. At a critical juncture of the storyline, we see his anticipated events on half the screen and the real events on the other half.

So, if you haven't seen it already, rent, buy, or download this movie! The cast is fantastic, and the story telling is truly original.

If you have seen it, you can weigh in on how you felt about Summer. A lot of people seem to think she was a bitch, but I don't agree. I do think the writers saddled her with one thoughtless action because it made a better story (they could have explained it a little better).

And the little sister is a stitch.

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
LOVED that movie. Tom's dance sequence was probably my movie-moment of the year. Without being kitschy or corny, it exemplified what he was feeling while being funny and TOTALLY not expecting the viewer to believe he went off dancing in the park.

What I really loved was that the narrator explains very clearly, right in the beginning, that this is not a love story. No one could be disappointed in the end when Tom and Summer didn't ride off into the sunset. It presented itself, it stayed true to that presentation. No SURPRISE! I fooled you into thinking they weren't getting together! It ended as it needed to, and I loved it. Well done.

Summer isn't a bitch. She just wasn't in love with Tom the way she wanted to be. She loved him--just not enough to let her guard down. He wasn't 'the one.' For some people, there IS only one. End of story.

The little sis--she was a GAS!
Jan. 14th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC)
The only place the writers let Summer down is they have her invite Tom to a party at her place without ANY indication that she's now with someone new. She could have said, "Bring a date," she could have said, "Bill (or whoever) and I are having a party," but she didn't. That makes him not totally a sap for going there thinking they might be able to rekindle the flame and it makes her thoughtless. When he asks her, "Why didn't you tell me?" she just says "He hadn't asked me then." So, not a bitch, but something of a botch.

I agree, the voice-over narration was another example of using the format to fit the story.

If I didn't have (relatively) young children, I would miss so much!
Jan. 14th, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the thing with her inviting him was a bit sketchy. Perhaps SHE was making sure. Hmmm...well, if that was the case, it's one place the writers failed to get it across. Ah well, I suppose I can forgive this small glitch. :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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