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Forced indie credibility shines in ‘Summer’

Ever since the cultural explosion and widespread acceptance of The First Indie Flick As Far As Normal America Is Concerned, “Garden State,” there has been a slew of slightly off-beat, nicely scored films enjoying some basking time and universally well-received reviews – “I Heart Huckabees” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” to name a few.

Enter the latest installment in this new-fangled genre, (500) Days of Summer. It’s a relatively worn path of boy meets girl, girl leaves boy, boy grieves. However, (500) does prevail more valiantly in its attempts to modern-up the recipe through a rethought chronology, with days 1 through 500 of the main characters’ ordeal together, starting with the first day they met.

Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is British pop music sap and a “Graduate” fan at that. He sashays through life working at a greeting card company, content to wait for his paramount passion, destined dear, The One.

Summer Finn (Zooey Deschenel), Tom’s boss’s new assistant, is a slightly jaded individual who thinks love is just some elusive farce. After the two experience a kismet encounter with The Smiths and each other in an elevator, an attraction ignites, and a thick plotline ensues.

S&T embark on what resembles to T a relationship, despite S’s warning beforehand that she doesn’t believe in the stuff. Such adorable vignettes including drunken karaoke, dates to Ikea (any Pavement fans in the house?) and sagacious little sisters breathe life into the film.

The switch of classic sex roles in (500) of assigning the dominant, stoic guise to the girl and the love-struck, attached outfit to the guy seems exemplary of the carousel roles of today. I mean, with the rising number of women employed at more executive positions and whatnot, it’s only evolution.

Despite my initial urge to dislike it the same way I do Urban Outfitters, what with its desperate attempts to appeal to this 18 to 20-something counterculture, it somehow works.

All of the vintage-inspired attire, Summer’s Belle and Sebastian quote in her yearbook and even the quirky choreographed number Tom leads down the Los Angeles streets after finally bedding Summer, ties together in a neat, comprehensive and fun package. Although the out-of-order approach proves a little confusing at times, (500) surfaces as an engrossing and educational cinematic gem.

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  • J

    JimSep 2, 2009 at 11:05 am

    Don’t you think that whole Smith thing was done a little over the top? I wonder if they paid to get their name in their they used it so much.

    Also as to grouping Eternal Sunshine with these ‘indie’ flicks when it was written by Charlie Kaufman who as produced the scripts (and recently directed) some of the greatest films of our generation is unfair to him.

    This being said, I did enjoy (minus a few painful winces) watching this movie alone in Atlanta.