Ya so what’s he like?
He is, uh, yeah, he is good. He is confident, unemotional, smart, happy-go-lucky, laconic, considerate and open, mildly aggressive or energetic or whatever, you know. He has very strong notions and he is kinda religious about them.
She, yes, yup let me see. She is emotional, the kind that wets its eyes after a touching movie. Her parents split quite early, so she has these ideas about marriage and relationships. She’s hot, talks a lot of nonsense, immature, does inexplicable and cheesy stuff occasionally, socializes at will, laughs a lot, popular. A verbose occasionally.
So what happened when he and she got together?
That’s 500 days of summer for you. And the following blog post is an account of the same seen through a pair of eyes that have gotten wiser with the experience of witnessing similar characters behaving in a similar way.
He and she get together for a casual experiment, an easy extrusion that stretches the boundaries of friendship a little farther: that’s how she describes it. He calls it a relationship, names it love, it’s magical, and he knew that she was the one as soon as he saw her.
500 days of summer is a story that unravels the process of he becoming she and she becoming he with time, 500 days to be precise. The story that unfurls the mystery of gender-definition exchange, the female acquiring the male character traits and the male mastering the art of thinking like a woman when in love. (No, I’m not discussing trans-sexuality here; discussion entirely restricted to an emotional level)
So Joseph Garden Levitt (Tom Hansen) plays the heroine and Zooey Deschanel (Summer Finn) is our hero in this love story directed by Marc Webb. This beautiful evolution of characters as they fall in love or so it seems is wonderfully elucidated by a subtle exchange of words: the leads describe a certain couple (Sid-Nancy) whose relationship had come to a futile end when Sid stabbed Nancy. Summer says she feels that their co-existence reminds her of Sid-Nancy and their relationship. Tom says they have had a few arguments but he hardly feels like Sid and that he’s very happy. Summer’s reply, “NO, I’m Sid.”
500 days of summer is a wonderful exhibition of characters that look unnaturally real. The Boss who keeps smiling, the smile is almost omnipresent, even when he is addressing someone with utmost seriousness. The friends, with almost pre-historic views on love, antique enough to deserve a special place in a museum, enlightening the protagonist about the way forward. One can’t help thinking that these friends are the drawing room versions of bosses at offices. They’re criminally optimistic, punctuate their words with a pointless smile and are seldom up to any good, constantly feeding people with hope to keep themselves entertained.
The director makes a successful knock on the typical man’s mind and gleefully exposes the way it functions when in love, much to our occasional delight and the rare embarrassment too, at having once embraced the stereotypes exposed. Men possess this constant hunger to impress their love. They play a song loudly, just to see if the girl turns back to take notice and say hi.There is also this delusion of being an intellectual, of reading into a supposedly cryptic incident, of attaching cosmic significance to a seemingly symbolic happening, that’s never anything more than plain coincidence. When she sports an indifferent expression, he assumes that she’s bored: feels that it’s time for a movie when it’s not. When she indicates that she’s tired and wants to go home, he reads too much into it, thinking that she’s bored and that it’s his duty to keep her entertained. The result, they end up eating pancakes in the nearby hotel. A casual remark becomes his gospel; a satirical comment assumes the dimension of a colossal criticism. Then there’s the childhood fantasy, the fairy tales, the sad pop and the movies. Just because the lift bell goes gong before the door closes, which also happens to occur after a hot girl passes a positive remark on his taste of music and leaves, he assumes that she is the one. That’s how it is, you know. When you see the one, when she talks, bells and chimes make merry with sound, the weather is pleasant and the sun says hi. These are results of the intertwining of the girl’s mind and the man’s heart.
One usually associates confidence, loquacity and opening up with men and shyness, confusion with women. But it works the other way when in love. The girl is casual, effortlessly walks up to kiss his man. She strikes a conversation about her relationship with him and inquires about his feelings for her without any fuss. But the guy is often confused, he doesn’t know if he has to ask her out or if he has to play the waiting game. She’s on his bed and he seeks reassurance and comfort interacting with his mirror image, a metaphor for chaos and duality. He’s not sure about her stance, about their relationship status. He keeps telling himself that it is a juvenile thing to label it and bring it down to a term like “boyfriend” but deep inside, he knows that he’d be much comfortable if it were that way.
Then there are the fun moments with the friends. The typical tendency of men to brand girls as bitc**s just because they weren’t able to talk to her or she refused to entertain talks with them or simply because she was hot (sour grapes), the friends asking about the guy’s extent of progress on the sexual ladders (the jobs, that is) and the guy simply replying that they just kissed and he’s still unemployed (read: no jobs yet). The way men interact is really funny. I just realized that it’s almost impossible for us (men) to strike a casual conversation about a good-looking female without a reference by someone at some point to her being a bitch with a cooked up story to justify the case.
The director also pays homage to the film “The graduate” with a few references to the flick here and there (the final scene of the movie also finds a place in this film). The scene where Summer lies naked on Tom’s bed, with her back facing the camera certainly reminded me of the 1967 hit. Nice way of saluting the film-maker who made the classic, a proto-type for many more romantic films.
Summer, the central character, rules this movie. Her characterization sets up the experience. She is the super-cute female who does what she likes. She’s the normal girl, she talks like a girl, she sings but then the abnormal tendencies suddenly spring up, later in the day when she’s in it with Tom. She comes up with the usual bullsh** that girls assume to be cute but she can be supremely stubborn and mature when it comes to a deep-rooted ideology or something about love, life and relationships. She’s very clear about what she wants right from the beginning and it’s just that Tom doesn’t see it. The character of the other girl in the movie, the little one, is surely the brainchild of a feminist, a tribute to the independent, contemporary, mature woman who can be super smart and talk serious sense when it matters. She speaks about the illusions in the mind of a man in love and the same getting shattered with consummate ease. She is the one he turns to in times of distress, the physical stature and incompatibility notwithstanding. Men are also dubbed as emotional bunnies and idiots when it comes to love, something i can’t agree to disagree with. The scene where Tom’s male colleague over-reacts after Tom completes a monologue is a subtle stroke of genius.
The screenplay bears an uncanny significance to the mind of Tom Hansen, it oscillates back and forth, it confuses and is confused initially only to clarify and settle down at the end. The dialogues are delicate and delightful. And the lyrics of the song that keep playing in the background wonderfully merge with the situation and the music is apposite too. Best scene in the movie? The scene where Tom’s expectations and the reality are depicted simultaneously on screen. The door is gently shut on Tom’s expectations as we get a harsh taste of reality. Poetic and poignant!