Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Relationship With (500) Days of Summer

So I finally watched the modern alt love story that seems to have captured the youth of today, (500) Days of Summer. A disjointed love story that jumps around to different moments of a relationship between a underachieving boy and free-spirited girl.

I was glad to break up with this movie when it was over. Divorce myself from its heavy handed idealizing of a retro/vintage manic pixie and the brooding disgruntled passive aggressive slacker. From the groan-worthy voice over, to the quirky storytelling tricks, to the over-the-top breaking the fourth wall and narrative Hall & Oates dance number.

Much like Tom () saw Summer (Zooey Deschanel) in one light when remisicing about their relationship, I could look back and see all its flaws and in your face editing. But I could also see small, intimate moments of a true relationship being developed and falling apart.

Awkward lines of dialogue, subtle moments of questionable, what does it mean gestures, sometimes painting both characters in a overly flattering light and sometimes showing their blatant flaws. Cute, inventive moments of young love (Ikea role-playing, drawing LA's skyline on her forearm), mixed with harsh glances and forced personality quirks clashing.

This movie is much about perception, an idea it plays with utilizing its unconventional structure, showing scenes more than once with polar opposite emotional impact. Were they in love? Was he forcing it, trying to hard to control the relationship? Or was she aloof, a cold, detached sociopath who could never love anyone?

In the end you're left with the idea that this movie may be named after Summer, but it's Tom's movie, his journey into the soul crushing world of love & relationships. Overly idealistic romantic obsessiveness is not love, despite knowing, feeling a need to connect deeper, to want to hold on to that dynamic with another person.

Summer's movie would have been the complete opposite, probably showing Tom as overbearing and insensitive to the reality of their situation (or perhaps I'm merely projecting my own thoughts on relationships here). But the idea that she learned to love on a deeper level, and he learned to dispel that fairy tale romantic tendency, this is the truth here.

Every relationship changes you. With different people we act differently. Sometimes we're the lover, sometimes the withdrawn one. Each person in our lives shows us something new, an altered perspective. Embracing that, learning from it, and yet remaining open to our original ideas and feelings, well, that's the point of it all, right?

I may not love (500) Days of Summer, but we had fun, experienced highs and lows, and I know a bit more about myself now that we're no longer together.

And maybe one day, I'll want to go back and revisit it, thinking back on the good times, but for now, I'm moving on.


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