(500) Days of Summer feels like the work of a newbie director (which it is) who is excited to use all of his brainstorms right away. The movie features random fantasy sequences, French film homages, dueling outcomes told via split screen, and even a dance number, which I'll admit is pretty funny. But the net effect is heavy-handed: I mean, the couple debates the possibility of true love while working at a greeting card company.
Thankfully, the moments of fantasy and sappiness are balanced by large doses of reality and cynicism. The script perfectly captures the bliss and awkward formality of a budding relationship but also the post-breakup realization that it might not be you, or him, but actually the two of you together that simply doesn't work. As Tom's unnaturally wise tween sister points out, just because Summer likes the same "bizarro crap" as him doesn't make them soulmates.
Upping the authenticity are the performances but especially that of Gordon-Levitt, who is lovable like a modern, more ambitious Lloyd Dobler. He and Deschanel are so natural together, it's a shame the overly precious script can't relax a little too.
Photos courtesy Fox Searchlight