'500 Days of Summer' Is Still Relevant for Hopeless Romantics

The first time I watched 500 Days of Summer was when it first came out in theaters in 2009. I was ten years old. At the end of the movie, I was so frustrated and upset with Summer that consequently, I claimed to hate the entire thing. It is now 2019 and at 20 years old, I completely understand why 500 Days of Summer is one of the most inspiring movies for a hopeless romantic to watch, as it actually addresses the complexity of an almost relationship “break-up.” 

Newsflash, you don’t need to be in an official or labeled relationship to be in love with someone. Those of us who were born as hopeless romantics completely understand this concept. It is embedded within us to quickly fall in love with the next person who resembles only a sliver of the ideal partner we make up in our heads (which most likely doesn’t exist, or is the kind of person we want but isn’t the kind of person we need). Initially, my naïve ten-year-old self absolutely hated Summer. I didn’t understand why she acted like she liked Tom so much, but eventually rejected him to marry someone else. The next time I watched the movie, a decade later, I found her blameless. As we realize during the expectations/reality scene at Summer’s party, Tom, the hopeless romantic we identify with, was the true cause his own heartache…not Summer.

Tom’s first mistake was that he only really liked Summer in shallow ways. One of the most iconic quotes in the movie was said by Tom’s little sister: “Just because she likes the same bizzaro crap you do, doesn’t mean she’s your soulmate.” Hopeless romantics with unique interests swear up and down that fate destined them to meet that other person with their same interests. In 500 Days of Summer, this interest was music, specifically The Smiths. Although liking some of the same things as someone else can seem necessary, it is not the crucial factor in determining whether or not you’ve found the one you want to spend the rest of your life with. There are way more important things (such as values, methods of conflict resolution, and just plain compatibility) that come into play within serious relationships that go beyond simple interests like music.

His second mistake, which became very clear to the audience, was that he only saw the good parts of Summer and the time they had together. He even tried to ignore the fact that she never wanted a relationship in the first place, wrongly believing he could change her mind on that matter. Another iconic quote by Tom’s wise little sister (people objectively observing situations are always wise, aren’t they?) points out the obvious: “I know you thought she was the one, but I don’t. Now I think you’re just remembering the good stuff. Next time you look back, I think you should look again.” This is another problem that many of us hopeless romantics face. We’re so certain we found “the one” that we don’t want to face the harsh reality that they probably aren’t. When we finally realize they aren’t, we wrongfully become bitter towards them for our own mistake of placing too much of our expectations on them.

Watching Tom in 500 Days of Summer was, embarrassingly and cathartically, just like looking in the mirror. I found myself relating to everything Tom was feeling as the story progressed. 500 Days of Summer not only does a good job portraying the hearts and minds of hopeless romantics, but also gives us the assurance that we shouldn’t stop believing in fate, destiny, and love. Sure, we can be pessimistic and a little more guarded after going through heartbreak, but we shouldn’t give up. Every person we encounter who turns out to not actually be “the one” teaches us something new about ourselves, maybe even making us better than who we were before we met them. After Summer, Tom actually quit his boring job and picked up architecture again, which most likely wouldn’t have happened without her presence and eventual absence in his life. One day when we finally do meet the person we’re destined to be with, we will find ourselves in the same position as Summer, who just “woke up one morning and…knew.”