Friday, August 28, 2009

500 Days of Summer

This is going to be an extremely brief overview, but since I saw it, I might as well write something on it.

For a film debut, I really think this is pretty good. I found it to be somewhat inconsistent, but overall it was very interesting. If Truffaut was an American, and slightly less accomplished I could imagine him, or some other French New Wave filmmaker having created this film. Like Jean Luc Godard's Pierrot Le Fou, it is told in chapters, and, also like that film, the chapters are out of sync, disregarding the formulaic narrative arc. In using the same strategy, Marc Webb focuses, not on the overall arch of the plot, but on the nuances of the relationship itself. He also employs a completely unneccessary narrator to make the self-reflextive story telling even more obvious. I nearly always question the use of a narrator, unless it is ironically. As such, I didn't especially enjoy this one, except for his unintentionally comedic effect.

Once again, the focus on the relationship itself and not the boy meets girl story is very reminiscent of many new wave films. In particular Truffaut's Jules et Jim came to mind. The only problem with drawing these comparisons is that the relationship between these characters is much less interesting than those explored by Truffaut and Godard. There are some quaint moments, though. I very much enjoyed the scene where the couple strolls through Ikea, playing house. It seems like a wry, ironic commentary on domestic American life-- everything at once pristine and sleek and empty. The two seem wary of committing to a lifestyle that might be furnished by cheaply and mass produced commodity items. Still, they romp playfully through the store, and the camera follows them, more out of fun than anything else.

Again, given that this is Webb's first film, I think he has done an excellent job. It's far less contrived than it could be, given this fact. I think he shows promise. As long as he loses the narrator, and doesn't rely on the supporting cast to bring out the emotions of the protagonist, he should do even better next time.

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