I can never convince anyone to watch 500 Days of Summer with me. The easiest way to alienate myself from the rest of the planet is to claim it as one of my favorite movies. Every time I suggest it for a movie night with my friends, I not only get an immediate resounding “No,” but a string of complaints of how depressing and downright horrible this movie is. They all have their own versions of the plot reenacted in their own lives–how they fell in love only to be left abandoned, wondering why their significant other never felt the same. I nod along sympathetically because I’ve learned to keep my perspective on the matter to myself. I can relate to some extent but not fully because…
I am Summer.
Not as in I’m secretly Zooey Dechanel, which would be awesome, but I can identify with Summer in almost every way. I have to be careful to whom I divulge this information. The last time I had a conversation about this movie with someone, he went on a rant of how Summer was a… *ahem*. Nope, now I’m definitely not telling him my view on the movie.
For those who haven’t yet seen the movie, it is from the perspective of a wannabe architect named Tom who falls in love with new coworker, Summer. You see their budding friendship-turned-kind of romance throughout 500 days, bouncing back and forth in time. From day 1 (or rather, day 10, I believe) Summer explains she doesn’t believe in love. Time and again, she says she’s not looking for anything serious and refers to their friendship as nothing more than that. I admit, she does give him mixed signals here and there by going on what seem to be dates and going a little to far with him, but even then she point blank admits she can’t give him the commitment he wants.
Note to self: When someone says they don’t want a relationship, that means they don’t want a relationship.
Tom believed what he wanted to believe and saw what he wanted to see. The flashbacks contained only happy memories of the good times they shared, omitting the times she seemed uninterested and uncomfortable. He absolutely fell apart when she became engaged to another man over a year later as if he had been betrayed or cheated on.
I can see how people who relate to Tom would become infuriated over 500 Days of Summer, reliving their own 500 Days of Somebody. Summer is a reminder of their failed relationships and how blind they were to the truth. How they were just shy of being someone’s “The One.”
But for me, this movie is a beacon of hope.
Relationships are hard for me. I have the reigns pulled tight on my emotions and have a difficult time releasing them for anyone. I identify completely with Summer’s dilemma of discomfort and uncertainty. She doesn’t allow herself to feel too attached because something inexplicable feels off.
I am my own Summer.
I haven’t allowed very many Toms in my life. Summer retreats much later than I ever would, and much more gracefully than I would as well. I admire that about her. She gave Tom a chance, but was true to her feelings and wouldn’t let Tom dictate how she felt. She tried to make herself feel things that just weren’t there but in the end, the charade was too much to keep up. She didn’t believe in love because she had seen the hurt it can cause rather than the joy it could bring.
Oh how I can relate.
Then, what caused unspeakable heartache to the man pining after a girl who’s been absent for the last 20 minutes of the movie brings unbelievable hope to the Summers of the world. She at long last finds love. The real crime in the movie is that we don’t get to see the true romance play out. Had we seen the progression of Summer with her now-husband, I’m sure there would be a noticeable difference in how she felt about him versus Tom. Even the short smile we witness as she’s marrying this mystery man was a grander one than she ever had with Tom.
This gives me hope. She couldn’t muster feelings for one man, but she found love in another. Just because she didn’t love Tom doesn’t mean she’s a heartless robot with no emotions.
I don’t mean to shaft Tom. Yes, he deserves sympathy too. He didn’t deserve to get his heart broken. We all can relate to the Reality vs. Expectations scene in the movie… I know I do. But there are many of us who don’t fall in love so quickly, or feel as though they can’t at all. There are some who grow frustrated with Tom’s desperation and persistence. Give the girl a break, she’s been through enough without your pressuring her. Hollywood is obsessed with the head-over-heels romance that consumes one’s entire being, building every relationship up to be once in a lifetime stuff fairy tales are made of. As someone who is frankly a little timid when it comes to feeling anything at all, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in this.