(500) Days of Summer is a 2009 independent Romantic Comedy starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.Tom Hansen works as a writer for a greeting-card company; Summer Finn is a quirky young woman hired as his boss's assistant. Tom, a hopeless romantic, immediately falls for her; Summer doesn't believe in true love, and isn't looking for a relationship. They quickly become more than just friends, but while Summer doesn't consider their affair to be serious, Tom believes she's "the one", and wants something more. The film takes a look at their quasi-relationship from Tom's perspective, numbering the days and events that lead to its buildup and eventual downfall.Directed by Marc Webb (from a script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber), the film has been praised by critics for eschewing romantic comedy cliches. Instead, it portrays the highs and lows (mostly lows) of a modern relationship and the fractured way in which we remember them.
This film contains examples of the following tropes:
Adorkable: Tom. He's awkward and silly, but many viewers found him lovable. Rachel thinks he's a bit of a nerd.
Ambiguous Ending: Will Tom find real lasting love with Autumn, or will it be another failed relationship? Since we only see them on the first day of their meeting, guessing in either direction is pure speculation.
Anachronic Order: The film begins on Day 488 and then jumps around among the 500 days as Tom (through the narrator) recalls them.
Bittersweet Ending: Tom and Summer don't get back together, but he's on the path to achieving his dreams, she's in a happy relationship, and he might have a good relationship starting.
Or, Downer Ending: Some viewers have been saddened, or even angered, by the reveal of Autumn. "HE LEARNED NOTHING! He's just going to do it all over again!"
Or, a Here We Go Again, but for Autumn, who'll have a 500 day relationship with Tom, who is too emotionally wrecked from what happened with Summer, and it'll cause their relationship to collapse eventually.
Or possibly not. Summer, as in the season, is associated with youthfulness, and with that, naiveté. Autumn marks the end of summer, and possibly maturity. So maybe Tom did learn a thing or two.
It's shown fairly evidently in the script, where it is shown that after his college girlfriend (briefly mentioned in the film) broke up with him in a flashback by using a song he showed her as a metaphor (skipping the song that she used to like), Tom misinterprets it and tells her it's a "great fucking song."
Cool Big Sis: Technically, she's a Cool Little Sis, but she sure does not sound or behave like a kid.
Creator Breakdown: In-universe example; Tom writes increasingly caustic and inappropriately cynical greeting card messages as his relationship with Summer deteriorates.
"Roses are red, violets are blue, fuck you, whore."
Crowd Song: A Crowd Dance, to be more accurate, since the characters onscreen are not the ones singing: the morning after Tom and Summer spend their first night together, Tom giddily struts down the streets of L.A., where he is joined by a crowd of dancers, a marching band, and animated birds, all set to Hall and Oates' "You Make My Dreams".
Foreshadowing: Summer has an art installation of paper cranes in her apartment, all but one are blue (a colour strongly associated with Summer throughout the movie) and the odd one out is red (Autumn is wearing red when Tom meets her). Guess which crane Tom picks to fidget with? Also an example of Color-Coded for Your Convenience.
Fourth Date Marriage: The entire story, including Tom's post-break-up depression, takes place over a little less than a year and a half. Consider how Summer spends less than half that time (Days 288-500). Most couples spend more time between the engagement and the wedding than Summer took meeting a total stranger and getting married to him. Including Millie.
Here We Go Again: Tom meets a new girl at a job interview. Her name? Autumn. Day 1.
Heroic BSOD: Tom's response upon learning that Summer has gotten engaged to someone else.
Hollywood California: Set in Los Angeles; Tom, having trained as an architect, takes Summer on a tour of his favorite buildings around the city.
Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Characters sing in a karaoke bar at a few different points in the movie, and their supposedly awful efforts are played for laughs, but they aren't actually that bad. Doesn't hurt that Zooey is an indie singer in real life. Seriously, go watch the cotton ad she was in.
Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Subverted/deconstructed; Tom initially thinks of Summer as one, and pursues a relationship with her even though she flip-flops between being clear that she's not interested in anything serious and leading him on, which leads to getting his heart broken when she dumps him and marries someone else. Thus are explored the very true-to-life hazards of treating a woman as a romantic ideal rather than a human being. Arguably, Tom may have been a Manic Pixie Dream Guy to Summer, who tells him at the end that he taught her that love is real. Word Of God on the subject:
"Yes, Summer has elements of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl — she is an immature view of a woman. She's Tom's view of a woman. He doesn't see her complexity and the consequence for him is heartbreak. In Tom's eyes, Summer is perfection, but perfection has no depth. Summer's not a girl, she's a phase."
Master of the Mixed Message: It seems like every time Summer tells Tom she's not interested in something serious, she immediately throws a curve ball in the form of hand-holding, kisses or sex. Just before she breaks up with him, she impulsively kisses Tom in the street.
The worst example of this would be when they have a huge fight, Summer tries to tell him they are Just Friends, he storms out, and Summer goes over to his place in the morning, in the rain, has sex with him and implies she was wrong and wants to stay in the relationship.
Meet Cute: On (Day 4), in the elevator, between Tom and Summer. Also, on (Day 500) / Autumn: (Day 1), another more standard Meet Cute, between Tom and Autumn, as they wait to interview for a job they're competing for. The two Meet Cutes have something in common: one party was already interested beforehand while the other was oblivious to that person's existence. The first time, it's Tom who's already interested and Summer who's been oblivious; the second time it's Tom who's been oblivious (too caught up angsting over Summer) and Autumn who's already interested.
Never Trust a Trailer: The title and trailer imply that the movie is about the 500 days in the relationship between Summer and Tom. In fact, Summer breaks up with Tom on Day 288, and the remaining days document his attempts to get over her. Furthermore, most viewers of the trailer expected Summer to be a straight portrayal of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl — considering she's played by Zooey Deschanel and all — instead of a Deconstruction of the trope.
A romantic comedy that's about love and not a love story where the protagonist doesn't live happily ever after with the girl from the beginning with Anachronic Order? Sounds a bit like Annie Hall for Generation Y.
Write Who You Know: The story is inspired by a real romance co-writer Scott Neustadter had. When he showed the script to the woman who inspired the character of Summer, she said she identified more with Tom.