500 Days of Indie: My introduction to film as a critique and my first love.
I remember I was maybe 15 or 16 when I first saw 500 Days of Summer. I was at my (at the time) girlfriend’s house and we bunched together to watch it online on some sketchy site on a miniscule 14’’ Dell screen at like 140p (ok I’m exaggerating a little) but it was horrible, I could barely see shit, but I loved every single second of it. Was it great because we smelled of teen spirit? Maybe. Or the fact that we were two kids “in love” while watching two other older kids fall in (and out) of love? Probably. But now looking back at it, I loved it because it became my gateway to a whole new genre and market of film that I have never experienced before. Before then, I merely was interested in the blockbusters. Yknow, the big films, Avatar, Harry Potter, the District 9, and Michael Bay’s beloved Transformers. (all of these came out the same year as 500 days of summer, interestingly enough). I was into the big cinematics and CGI.
Only until Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008) did I start beginning to enjoy watching films of a “smaller” scale. Only then did I appreciate dialogue, storytelling, and a coherent story. I was enamored by 500 Days of Summer’s unorthodox way of unravelling itself and the infamous Expectations vs. Reality sequence took everything I knew about how a film “should” look and threw that right out the window. From jumping between timelines and frame of minds, much like how an oral story would be told, the film showed me a state of honesty and authenticity that you just don’t find in big car robots punching each other as Shia screams at cars every other second. By subverting expectations, the audience is allowed to free themselves from any preconceived notions of a love story. Which this isn’t, of course. I was not used to this type of freedom. From then on, I realized that films did not need to follow the same old beats or the indistinguishably similar old arcs. Films are supposed to make you feel or get you to escape. And the end does not have to justify the means.
With me being the ripe age of 16 at the time, and as I am developing tastes and favours, I found a romantic haven in 500 Days of Summer that no other film gave me. It became a dream of a film. I saw it everywhere. I wanted to be Tom. I started to listen to Joy Division. And I wanted a Summer. I loved the feeling of being obsessed with someone and having that same someone destroy all your expectations. Is it a little sadistic? Maybe. And maybe it’s not a good film to view love through but it was my movie to love and no one can take that away from me.