Sunday, 4 October 2009

(500) Days of Summer (12A)

Warning. This is not a love story. Or so the trailers voice over would have you believe. Sadly (500) Days of Summer, whilst masquerading as a remedy to the conventionally stilted rom-com is in truth nowhere near as inventive as it would like to think, coming off instead as saccharine as the very films it claims to counter.

Much like the lukewarm Away We Go (2009), (500) concerns itself with ticking every box on the indie checklist; the kooky Brit-pop loving female; Regina Spektor and Feist wailing on the soundtrack; interstitials between each scene. Amidst the innumerable clich├ęs it is virtually impossible to identify any appealing qualities whatsoever as the protagonist journeys through more troughs than peaks in a melodramatic knock-off of Forgetting Sarah Marshal (2008). Whereas the latter mingles laugh-out-loud humour with a convincingly steady romantic arc that impeccably builds towards a deeply satisfying crescendo, the former offers neither with an ambience less heartening than Straw Dogs (1971).

Despite cutting back and forth across the timeline, we still cover a traditionally structured narrative which suggests the technique was employed for aesthetic purposes above anything else. Not that this is the only attempt to spice up an otherwise underwhelming experience. Now and then the director employs split-screen and fantasy dream sequences to top up the quirky charm but so false and inconsistent are these diversions one can’t help but feel how forced it all is, like a sterile recreation of Fight Club-like stylistic cool.

The characters aren’t much better, particularly the irritatingly “wacky” Zooey Deschanel who speaks each line like a motor-neurone sufferer still learning the English language and looks set to take over Ellen Page as the most irritating screen star this side of Juno (2007). While everyone wanders around spouting defeatist dialogue about how terrible their lives are and performing ker-azy acts like drawing buildings on arms I found myself choking on the hatred I felt towards this universe of overemotional fuckwits.

Yet the real bitter pill arrives at the very end, when our hateable leads suddenly reverse their attitudes and proclaim fate and destiny to have been behind everything. Perhaps under the watchful eyes of Apatow this could have been an excitingly original love story, but as it stands (500) Days of Summer is quite simply one of the dullest rom-coms I have ever seen.


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