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(500) Days of Summer surprised me

January 9, 2010

I had no expectations when I sat down to watch the movie (500 ) Days of Summer.  I’d actually even forgotten that the film’s director is from Madison.  (How could I forget that with so many Madison press reports on that fact?  I guess I’ve been busy lately.)

At any rate, I can honestly say my enjoyment of the movie had nothing to do with the Madison connection.  The movie engaged me in a way few do these days and resonated long after I’d turned off the DVD player. 

It took no longer than the opening credits to draw me in.   Regina Spektor’s song was coupled with clips from the childhoods of both main characters.  Showing the “home movie” style clips side by side while playing the song Us struck me as brilliant. 

I found the execution, acting, and soundtrack first-rate in this coming-of-age story.  Almost everything seemed authentic.  I’m not a guy…but I could feel Tom’s struggle as if it were my own.   Best of all were the nuggets of wisdom in the telling of the timeless story of unrequited love.  What you remember may not be what happened.  Your mind’s eye sees what it’s ready to comprehend.  Growth comes in stages.  The kind of growth that changes a person can be extraordinarily painful.  And, mercifully, time heals.

The non-linear way the story was told was innovative.  The split screens were technically well executed and artful..especially the scene that showed Tom’s expectation versus his reality.  I watched that scene several times so I could fully appreciate the craft of telling two very different stories simultaneously.

The director, Marc Webb, grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and graduated from West High School.  He talks about the movie here.  I thought this interview with Webb provided depth and gave an interesting perspective.  I did some reading about the movie and then I watched the video commentary.  I’ve never done that before.  Hearing the writers, director, and actor comment on the scenes gave me a deeper appreciation for what they accomplished by turning a pretty simple tale into a touching movie.

The library owns it on DVD.   (It’s rated PG-13 and definitely contains sexual material and language not suitable for children.)  You can find it in the SHARE catalog.

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