500 Days of Summer
In 500 Days of Summer we meet Tom, a slightly melancholic young man, who believes that the key to his happiness is to be in a relationship. Enter his love interest, Summer, who conversely believes that she neither needs nor wants a relationship. The beauty and poignancy of this movie centers around this paradox which will also offer Tom some valuable lessons about himself.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Tom, the ever endearing, sometimes goofy, but always Summer-infatuated. Zoey Deschanel is the titular Summer. Cool, charming, and distantly captivating, she flits between liking Tom and not liking Tom enough to revisit her views on relationships.
The nature of their relationship emerges through non-sequential vignettes. Tom works not as the architect he was trained to be but as a writer of greeting cards. Although he doesn’t seem to belong in this job, his work improves when he meets Summer in the office.
From the start, Summer makes it clear that she doesn’t want a relationship, but Tom increasingly has difficulty accepting this since what they develop together, looks and feels decidedly like a relationship. It becomes apparent that Tom isn’t the man he needs to be - not only for Summer but also for himself. The loss of the relationship with Summer forces him to examine his life.
Two key moments show us the importance of expectations and perceptions. These moments not only provide the basis for how we view our own relationships but also challenge our understanding of those relationships. This is the key to the film. These moments provide the platform from which the characters grow and - in the case of Tom - start to understand themselves.
When the relationship ends, Tom allows his life and his career to totally come apart. But from this rock bottom, Tom is able to rise, to grow, and to spend time in re- discovering his true self.
Through this film, we see how Tom and Summer discover what each brings to the other in a relationship. Yet there is more. For we come to understand that what we may want so badly might indicate exactly what we are missing in ourselves.