“Some people are meant to fall in love with each other but not meant to be together.”
Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Girl tells boy she doesn’t want a relationship. Boy says it’s ok, he can handle it. Boy and girl become this weird kinda sorta no one is not sure what to make of it relationship that’s not an official relationship. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl decides she wants to back away because to her it was never a relationship, needs space, and disappears. Boy gets confused. Boy seeks advice. Time passes. Boy meets up with girl again. Boy thinks he has a chance. Boy finds out girl is engaged. Boy goes into depression. Time passes. Boy refinds his passion and himself. Boy starts to move on in his life. Boy sees girl one last time. Girl tells boy she found love, just not with him. Boy hurts one last time. Boy realizes she’s right and he will be ok. Boy leaves older, wiser, and smarter about relationships. Boy then meets new girl…
No I did not just tell you about myself and genderswapped all the characters. (Though it’s a familiar story…) What you just read is a very simplistic plot of one of my favorite movies (500) Days of Summer. (Props again to @theharmonyguy for making me watch this.) Why is it one of my favorites? Because as I just said, it’s horribly relatable. Almost everyone can usually identify with the two main characters, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschenel).
The movie is told in a nonlinear format, which initially can be confusing and if you are the type of person who needs to have their story told in order, well you’re not going to like it. I personally really like it here because it gives the viewer a chance to view the rise and fall of a relationship perhaps in the way you wish you could have viewed yours.
“Did you ever do this, you think back on all the times you’ve had with someone and you just replay it in your head over and over again and you look for those first signs of trouble?”
When I first saw the movie, I was wearing my JGL glasses and was like poor Tom! Summer is a horrible person! Who wouldn’t want him? Then after multiple rewatchings, I soon realized that while I am still a Tom, he’s not perfect and he has MANY flaws. I think the problem stems because he is played by JGL who is insanely likeable is so many ways that I will not go into right now. And I think the audience is focused more on that vs the character itself.
These are my thoughts. Tom is a romantic who is so intent on finding the myth of “the one”. Why shouldn’t he be, when in all aspects of our society and culture we’ve made finding our soul mate the holy grail of everything? When he finds Summer, he falls head over heels in love with her, and just disregards everything else, including the fact that she says that she does not want to be in a relationship now. I kinda now feel like he set himself up for it. He probably should have asked himself “Am I in love with this person or am I in love with the idea of this person?”
It probably didn’t help that they ended up sleeping together which most likely made Tom feel even more connected with Summer. This is why it’s good to learn to be intentional up front and realize that if the person doesn’t want what you want, it probably won’t work. At the same time, sometimes you can’t help who you have feelings for no matter how much you guard your heart. And sometimes you really care about someone and when you realize that the other person doesn’t want you, it is painful. The reality vs expectations montage is exactly what I think everyone goes through.
The funny thing is I’ve had discussions with friends over who’s at fault for what happened in the movie. Like I said, it mostly comes from people relating to either character. The Toms will say Summer because she kept leading him on, mainly due to the scene at the wedding when she doesn’t tell Tom she’s engaged. The Summers say it’s Tom because he knew what he was getting into after she told him. Personally I do think both are at fault. Summer could have been more insistent from the beginning and I know she tried to make it work with Tom and she couldn’t. There’s no really right or wrong answer. Because this happens so many time in real life, it’s a painful way to visually see how a relationship doesn’t go the way it was hopefully supposed to.
There are so many freaking wonderful quotes in the movie (as I have sprinkled throughout this post) that make me feel that the script just needs to “STOP. JUST STOP TALKING ABOUT ME.”
“A girl and a guy can be friends, but maybe at one point or another they will fall for each other. Maybe temporarily, maybe at the wrong time, maybe too late, or maybe forever.”
“Just because she likes the same bizarre crap you do doesn’t mean she’s your soul mate.”
“Look, I know you think she was the one but I didn’t. Now I think you just remember the good stuff. Next time you look back, I really think you should look again.”
The final scene with Tom and Summer on the bench kinda kills me a little every time I watch it. When Summer tells him that she could have never really loved him and he looks away and you see the pain in his face, it’s like a stab to my heart every time. The whole bench scene can be uncomfortable to watch if you’ve been there (“You don’t want to be named as someone’s girlfriend but now you’re someone’s wife?”) but at the same time, it’s rather reassuring to know that you are NOT the only one that’s been in that situation. (Quality is kinda bad on the video below)
“I just…I just woke up one day and I knew.
“….What I was never sure of with you.”
Let’s put it this way. This is not a movie with a happy ending for this couple. They didn’t end up together the way they thought they were going to. There is a solid chance that Tom didn’t learn a lesson at all and will go about with the new girl in the same way that he and Summer acted. And I’m also hoping that the movie makers aren’t saying that Tom can’t be fully happy unless he has someone else in his life. But at the same time, this movie is a really good example of how you can get really swept up in a relationship, put your heart and soul into something that you really want, only to fall down HARD when it doesn’t turn out the way you want.
This can be one of the most uncomfortable movies to watch and at the same time, it’s therapeutic as well. You realize that the hurt will go away, you will have learned lessons from that relationship, and you can have the beauty of hope in a new one. All part of growing up and living life.
I think it would be interesting to watch this movie from the Summer perspective but it’s not worth having to go through the personal experience for it. I also wonder how it would be if the roles were reversed and Tom’s character was a girl and Summer’s the guy. Would the audience still relate to the “Tom character” as well? Or would they think because it was a female, she was just too emotional and all that? And if the male “Summer character” is more of a jerk for stringing “Tom along? Interesting points to ponder.
The other thing I love about this movie is the so excellent soundtrack. I borrow this CD from the library all the time (yes I know I could just buy or rip the songs but I don’t) and it’s constantly playing in the car because of how good it is. While every song is good, the two that stand out the most for me are “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” by The Smiths and “She’s Got You High” by Mumm-ra. Just go listen to it. I can’t fully describe the awesomeness of those songs