!!!Spoiler Alert!!! Do not read this post if you have not seen 500 Days of Summer and want to as I’ll be revealing major details about the plot and the ending.
This is not a review of the film, rather a review of how it affected me and my beliefs about love. Actually, it traumatized me so much it’s taken over a week for me to sit down and write this. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was quite well done, engaging, believable, and starred the lovely Zooey Deschanel whom I’ve been slightly obsessed with since her appearance in Almost Famous (my favorite movie of all time). I use the word traumatizing here because this film did more than just make me think, it seriously shook up my beliefs, which can feel disconcerting but is also what is so great about art (in this case film as art) and more specifically, the expression of love through art.
As a refresher, here is the story in a nutshell. Boy meets girl, boy falls hopelessly in love with girl although girl claims to not believe in love and does not want serious relationship with boy. Meanwhile, via flashbacks, we know something eventually goes horribly wrong between boy and girl, but we don’t know exactly what. Love ensues. Girl suddenly breaks up with boy, boy is devastated, she is the only one for him, where did it go wrong? Boy tries to get over girl, sees her again months later and is hopeful they will get back together. Turns out girl in engaged and is now a believer in love and has met the one. Boy is crushed. Boy meets another girl, she is the one.
They had to throw us a bone with the happy ending and we’re better for it because I couldn’t bear this story otherwise. What most upset me was the unfairness of this love. Not because she broke up with him or because she didn’t love him as much as he loved her, but because she said from the beginning she didn’t believe in love. And you don’t get to do that! You don’t get to be fervently against love, drag someone along who clearly does believe in it, then when you meet someone else, decide well, hey I guess it’s real after all. No. No! My perspective was firmly locked through the eyes of Boy.
It wasn’t until after chatting with a friend about the film that it dawned on me that this story is all about perspective. Her comment was that Summer (girl) did the right thing. Did the right thing? This echoed in my mind for days until I could finally understand why she saw it that way. To her, Summer ended it when she realized it wasn’t right to keep stringing him along, when she finally knew she didn’t love him. Ok. Yes, this is a good point but it’s still unfair. He was the one who believed in love all along, not Summer.
And mainly what’s bothering me is there is a lot of Tom in me. Not the part about believing in your one true love, but experiencing that pain of loving someone so much and only getting static back in response. Love is so beautiful and wonderful and goddamn it ought to be fair too. But some people don’t know how to receive that kind of powerful love, for some reason can’t feel what you feel, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. It’s not that certain people are meant to be together, it’s that the give and take is connected between them, or in this case not. So the question remains, how is that connection made and why does it exist between some people but not with others? All I know is this: love is unfair. You just can’t help who you love.