SPOILER ALERT WATCH OUT EVERYBODY
At no point in (500) Days of Summer did I think the relationship between Summer and Hansen was going to work out, that they would wind up married. The tell is in the first scene, when we see, without context (other than the knowledge that the scene is occurring on Day 488 of the story), Summer wearing a wedding ring. “They’re not married,” I huffed. And I was right! (500) Days of Summer is about every great relationship that leads up to the one that works.
If I’d caught the movie when it came out, I don’t think it would have hit as hard. In August, in the throes of a relationship I really thought would work, I had a temper tantrum that spurred a Talk. Not The Talk, but an ugly cousin. We knew that we wouldn’t be living in the same city this time next year–she’d be moving–and that some of the chemistry had ebbed out of the relationship. We talked about that. The point of the whole thing–raised by her, not me–was that a relationship didn’t need to end in marriage to be a success. We could have a good time together, and if it ended, we’d come out of it with fond memories and some satisfaction in what we’d learned.
It was immediately clear that the relationship was going to end soon. When it ended, I spent a few weeks brooding. I’m still in some stage of brooding. But I can’t deny that she was right, and that I am better at and more realistic about many things that I wasn’t before we dated.
Back to (500) Days of Summer, which is not technically about my life. It absolutely nails the dizzying first moments of relationships, and it does so with a happy amount of shamelessness–the fumble of the first chance to make a date, the first morning-after elation, the first time you can’t sleep without each other. What I really liked, though, was the hard education of both leads. It’s no big deal for the male lead to Learn Something from his relationship. But it’s really something for the Magical Dream Pixie (as some critic, I wish I knew his name, labeled these cute life-changing girl characters) to be brought to earth and visibly change over the course of the film.
So: A wonderful little movie. I like it when studios do me these favors.