(500) Days of Summer, the Sundance standout directed by Marc Webb, goes out of its way to tell you "this is not a love story," but that really isn't true. (500) Days definitely has a love story, as greeting card copywriter and hopeless romantic Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls for Summer (Zooey Deschanel), an administrative assistant in Tom's office who seems to be the embodiment of everything he's ever wanted. But as we watch their relationship take off over karaoke and shared music tastes, we simultaneously witness it implode as the film skips through the chronology of a relationship we learn early on is destined to fail. (500) Days is not just a love story -- it's a breakup and, in many ways, a coming of age story. But it's definitely not a Hollywood love story.
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I hope (500) Days of Summer and its predecessor, the unbelievably good Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, represent a new wave of movie romances -- a wave that I imagine most movie reviewers are more than ready for. Both films share a view on love that is undeniably true yet is considered subversive in the world of movies -- that sometimes relationships fail regardless of how much you love someone, but going through that experience -- while painful -- can make you a better person.
Americans are waiting longer to get married than in any other time in history. There are a few reasons for this: couples are living together longer before marrying and people are waiting until their careers and finances are more stable before taking the plunge. But I also think this reflects a more nuanced, realistic understanding of relationships from a generation that has watched their parents get divorced at record rates (in my review, I said the current divorce rate is over 50 percent, but it's apparently closer to 40 percent-45 percent). They know it may take a while to meet the right person, and there are a lot of obstacles, both internal and external, that have to be addressed if a relationship has any chance of lasting -- and even that's no guarantee. They know that love is not a Hollywood fairytale. It would be great if Hollywood learned the same.
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