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500 Days of Summer- A Love Story (or not)

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

I was summoned out of my lethargic state last week during my religious studies class when my professor recommended we watch one of his favorite films, 500 Days of Summer. As he informed us that the lead roles were played by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon- Levitt, I nearly did a cartwheel of joy in front of my class. These are just about two of my favorite people on the entire planet. Their talent, personalities, and charisma are (in my opinion) unmatched. I rushed back to my dorm and succumbed to the $3.99 rental fee on Amazon Prime. 

This movie perplexed me right from the opening lines, as the narrator bluntly asserts that the film “will not be a love story”, despite its plot being centered around a male and female pair. Set in Los Angeles, the 2009 film is remarkably edited with a brilliant non-chronological format. Each scene is introduced by a number, which indicates which of the 500 “days of Summer” the moment occurs during. 

A failed architect named Tom (Gordon- Levitt) works as a writer for a greeting card company. It appears he’s stuck in the American nightmare; his time is spent occupied by a dull office job with no satisfaction or purpose beyond a mediocre paycheck. Tom is in existential mundanity until he meets a new employee who is the epitome of beauty, charm, and femininity. This beautiful brunette named Summer (Deschanel)  soon becomes the center of Tom’s universe. Their connection stands to represent the young love archetype that every romantic movie attempts to capture. Tom spends each day in bliss believing that Summer is indeed his soulmate; and yet, Summer is quick to articulate that she is not looking for anything serious. 

Nonetheless, their dreamy label-free chemistry is one the audience can’t help but root for. Summer and Tom bond over drunk karaoke, walks in the city, and intimate conversations. Their affinity is unique, profound, electric:  and yet short-lived. 

Over late-night pancakes, Summer abruptly blurts out that she feels they should no longer see one another. Tom’s mind begins to spiral into a deep, inescapable abyss. 

The next few weeks are some of the darkest of Tom’s life. Depression floods over his body and mind, inhibiting his performance at work. Tom leaves his apartment just once to purchase twinkies, orange juice, and a bottle of Jack Daniels for his nightstand. It seems there is no hope for the protagonist who once had such a bright future. 

Weeks later, Tom lands an interview at an architecture firm in hopes of a fresh start. In the waiting room, he meets a woman with a magnetic personality, whom he asks on a date. Ironically, her name is Autumn. Suddenly, any thought of Summer slips into the back of Tom’s mind as he strikes up a conversation with Autumn. We can imply the film may indeed be a happily ever after tale- just perhaps not in the way we originally intended.

Prior to watching the film, I expected a cliche, feel-good rom com. I knew Zooey Deschanel’s bubbly persona from my favorite show, New Girl. Similarly, when I think of Joseph Gordon- Levitt, I imagine the innocent heartthrob from 10 Things I Hate About You. While the film showcased snippets of lighthearted energy, I was ultimately astonished that their relationship did not endure the test of time.

If we learn nothing else from this film, we should note how Tom’s period of dejection subsides as soon as he meets Autumn. The seemingly monumental moment of Tom and Summer’s separation is now a mere moment of the past. Our lives have inevitable fragments of good and bad; a human experience that is lived to its fullest potential is often messy. As seen in 500 Days of Summer, the love, joy, and fulfillment you deserve will find you. It may just arrive as a different person, season, or experience than expected. With this mindset, step into a new confidence that whatever is meant to be yours will find you.

Hi there! My name is Katie and I am a freshman Strategic Communications major at St. Bonaventure University. My favorite activities include reading, laughing with friends, and learning about new people and places.
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