Today was the first day of the last month of summer. To celebrate, I headed out to see the appropriately titled 500 Days of Summer. I had high hopes, and had not been put off by the mostly mixed reviews I had read all over the internet in advance of my outing. Most people seemed to struggle with whether they enjoyed the film or not, deciding instead, to praise it for being clever, and for its departures from the typical Hollywood rom-com formula. Here, boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, boy misreads signals put out by girl, they break up miserably, and they live happily ever after, but not with one another. All of which you learn in the opening moments of the film, where you are instructed, "This is not a love story. It is a story about love," so I'm not really spoiling anything for you.
I have a soft spot for quirky love stories set to soundtracks that could have been pulled from one of my own playlists. I was first sucked into the genre by Garden State, whose soundtrack quickly became the soundtrack to my sophomore year of college. Its songs were all in the "Top 25 Most Played" list on my iPod, and when I listen to it now, I am instantly transported back to my favorite armchair at the Olin Library. Ever since, I have been susceptible to the charms of a well-curated soundtrack. When I heard the distinctive notes of Sufjan Stevens' "Chicago" in the trailer for Little Miss Sunshine, I put the film on my "must see" list. It may have been the most I've ever laughed out loud during a movie. When I found out that Juno featured music from Belle and Sebastian (my favorite band, and the source of my blog's moniker), my mind was made up that I had to see it. And I loved it.
Therefore, it was pretty much a given that I was going to enjoy 500 Days of Summer. Musically, there may not have been any Belle and Sebastian, but they received a prominent shout-out in the script; Patrick Swayze's "She's Like the Wind" was used to excellent comedic effect (and truly, how can anyone take that song seriously to begin with?). Critics of the film maligned the lack of character development, opining that the film failed to delve into the depth of Summer's motivations in particular. I, for one, did not mind. For me, the movie was very much about the unintended ramifications of our actions, and that in a relationship, one can never be sure of what their partner is thinking. If we were privy to Summer's thought processes in ways that Tom was not, it would have been a totally different film. I thought it was better to leave an aura of mystique around her.
It is, after all, summertime. I may not be the type for summer blockbusters full of CGI explosions, but that doesn't mean I'm in the mood to think very hard. Hollywood can save its sophisticated fare for the fall, a time that invites introspection and pensiveness. By then, I'll be ready to digest the studio's drives for Oscar glory. For now, I'm happy to take in some good tunes, and a little post-modern romance -- even if it is, by nature, full of angst. Just because it is summer doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.