In the excellent 500 Days of Summer, boy loves girl, girl doesn’t love boy. Simple. And if you’ve ever felt unrequited, this is all played alarmingly, heart-feelingly real. And yet somehow the movie achieves this rawness via kooky animation, dance routines, non-linear narrative, the occasional split-screen, a disembodied voice and a really smashing sound track. It’s all thanks to the leads: Joseph Gordon Levitt is astounding; no really, just watch how the emotion flickers across his face (and note how you empathise.) Zooey Deschanel is also remarkable; I can only assume that Maggie Gyllenhaal gets cast in Hollywood because Zooey’s busy.
Location plays a huge part too; Hansen – who’s a lapsed architect – romances Summer on walking tours of downtown LA, and he describes Walker and Eisen’s 1927 Fine Arts Building as his favourite. But as Christopher Hawthorne in the LA Times notes: There’s a twist, though, to the picture’s emphasis on architecture: It has been carefully edited to excise virtually all shots of buildings finished after about 1950. Don’t expect to see Frank Gehry’s shimmering Walt Disney Concert Hall or the Department of Water and Power by A.C Martin. Or Thom Mayne’s Caltrans District 7 Headquarters, whose imposing, perforated-metal façade has made it a movie and car-commercial staple. Or Rafael Moneo’s Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels….
But you know what, I don’t care. I loved this film and it’s not just the best of my year so far, but right up there in the best of the last decade. Yes, that good.