Lit React ~ Analysis & reactions on works of fiction.

15 July 2011

(Movie - 2009) 500 Days of Summer, directed by: Marc Webb

(Reaction) Love: Unconditional or Unrequited by: Patrick Shane Diaz

(500) Days of Summer is a story of boy meets girl, but as the narrator says, it is not a love story. Set in the City of Angels, the movie highlights the architecture in the city as a metaphor for the relationship of Tom and Summer. The movie's central theme is love being lost, and the time it takes to mend a broken heart.

Tom is an architecture graduate, writing greeting cards for a living. Thus Tom is a man of words, a man of moods, and a man of emotion. He also believes in fate, true love, and soul mates, a Hallmark kind of guy. He has this way of channeling his moods and feelings into words, making his character an impulsive one.

The boy, Tom Hansen of Margate, New Jersey, grew up believing that he'd never truly be happy until the day he met his... soul mate. This belief stemmed from early exposure to sad British pop music and a total misreading of the movie, The Graduate.

Summer is the complete opposite of Tom.

The girl, Summer Finn of Shinnecock, Michigan, did not share this belief. Since the disintegration of her parents' marriage, she'd only loved two things. The first was her long blonde hair. The second was how easily she could cut it off... And feel nothing.

Summer's attitude portrayed in the movie is somewhat detached from the norms of society. As seen in the start of the film, the character is based on the ex girlfriend of the writer/director of the movie. This character may not mirror the person Summer is patterned from, but more of a character possessing the qualities opposite to that of the director. In that way, the name Summer was chosen for a reason, based on the fact that summer is the warmest of the four seasons, wherein the days are longest and the nights are shortest. It could also be the fact that people have flings in the summer, which is what the director sees his time spent with the girl as, as summer fling.

Summer is skeptical about love. She chooses not to believe in it as a result of her parents' divorce, and thus fails to see that any relationship needs love to begin with. Thus, in Summer's point of view, there are no foundations in any relationship, which in effect explain her skepticism about relationships. She settles for likes, just being friends, etc. It is in her spending time with Tom that she sees where she was wrong, and realizes that architectural foundations in any relationship are necessary, hence the lines:

Summer: I woke up one day and I knew. Tom: Knew what? Summer: What I never was sure of with you.

This is the reason why the end of the movie had a scene wherein Tom meets a girl named Autumn. This scene summarized the natural flow of events, wherein Tom gets over Summer and is ready to go out and meet someone again.

The all-knowing narrator is central to the underlying premise of fate and destiny as a driving factor of the relationship showed in the movie. The narrator seemed to know from the start that it would be a story of boy meets girl, and not a love story. He also knew who Tom and Summer were, how the story would go down. This narrator, unknown to all the characters, was used to portray the hand that wrote it all, the author of fate and he who executed destiny through coincidence.

If Tom had learned anything... it was that you can't ascribe great cosmic significance to a simple earthly event. Coincidence. That's all anything ever is. Nothing more than coincidence. It took a long time but Tom had finally learned. There are no miracles. There's no such thing as fate. Nothing is meant to be. He knew. He was sure of it now. Tom was...pretty sure.

This scene simply states that Tom never got over his point of view when it came to love. He may have forgotten it or let it go over his recuperation from Summer, but in the end, that was who he was, and what he believed in.

The narrator got the last part of the story wrong. He did not know Tom would turn around and talk to the girl, Autumn. This showed that fate, destiny and coincidence will not always be correct, since people have one thing fate cannot control, free will. Tom chose to talk to this girl, take the leap and create his own fate or destiny. Coincidence is based on one's point of view. Tom chose to create the moment of coincidence for himself, something fate or destiny could never have guessed.

The name Autumn was smartly chosen by the writer to denote the fact that Tom was over Summer, and that he was ready to move on to the next season. Autumn marks the end of summer, when the arrival of night becomes noticeably earlier. This is also used to symbolize harvest, wherein Tom was starting to harvest all the emotions and lessons he learned over Summer.

There are contrasting scenes in the movie, one when Tom enumerates the things he loves about Summer, and another wherein he enumerates the same things, but says how he hates her. It can be said that people choose to see what they want in certain people. However, when things go sour, these perceptions change to favor the emotions of the beholder. Funny thing in life is that perceptions tend to make or break the way we see things. These perceptions also grow or diminish exponentially based on our emotions towards a person.

It is unsure in the film whether or not Tom really loved Summer, and vice versa. He harbored so much love, and then so much hate. He felt she was the one, she did not see that in Tom. Most people say Tom loved Summer, but she did not return it. However, it can be said that Summer really did. She loved him enough to give him a chance, to let him go when she decided for herself that it was not he she wanted to be with in the end. Tom on the other hand, should have realized sooner that Summer's intentions were for him in the long run. He also should have realized that in loving someone, one has to let them go for them to be happy. Tom realized this in the pivotal scene in the park, wherein he learned and finally decided to let Summer go. Time was all it took to realize and accept this.

One scene in the movie caught the attention of most people, when Paul, Tom's friend was talking about his dream girl, what he looked for in any relationship:

I wouldn't say 'the girl of my dreams,' no. The girl of my dreams would have a better rack. Probably different hair, could like sports a little more. But... truth is... Robyn's better than the girl of my dreams. You know why? Cause she's real.

Reality is different from our dreams. Paul realized this in such a way that he was happy. In contrast to Tom, who would look for certain qualities in certain people, Paul was content with what he had. People may say he was settling, lowering his standards, but as a matter of fact, Paul's girl fit his standards, for she made him happy and content.

(500) days of Summer simply says that to be happy and content with someone means that you accept that the person is real, and is right there with you. Fate is real, and it brings two people together using coincidence. The paths fate uses may be different, but the end goal is the same. People get hurt in love, but that does not mean they shouldn't love again. Time is all it takes to get over heartache. Time is what it takes for the coincidence to bring you that someone you will consider as the one.


It hurts to love someone and not be loved in return, but what is the most painful is to love someone and never find the courage to let the person know how you feel. It is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all. So, all you have to do is take the leap.

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