The film (500) Days of Summer follows Summer and Tom’s doomed relationship, flipping back and forth through the 500 days in which they know each other. The film is shown from Tom Hansen’s perspective, who aspires to become an architect but has worked for four years writing greeting cards. The two meet at work and Tom sees Summer Finn as alluring, smart and sexy. Tom is immediately infatuated with her, pursues her and quickly falls in love with her; despite her forewarning him she doesn’t want anything serious.
Summer gives Tom mixed messages by accepting and encouraging his romantic advances, then calling him just a friend. Tom experiences heavy mood swings depending on the success of their relationship, and asks his friends and little sister, Rachel, for love advice. Their relationship falls apart, Tom is a melancholy mess, Summer quits her job and the pair don’t see each other until they are on the same train for a mutual friend’s wedding. They reconnect over the weekend, flirting and dancing, and Tom finds himself falling for her again, until a week later he discovers she is engaged.
He falls back into disrepair, drinking excessively and then quitting his job. He gets back on his feet and applies for architecture jobs. He bumps into Summer one last time before the movie ends. This film is about Tom’s journey of falling in love, and through that: self-discovery. His journey of self-discovery starts with Summer, who spins into his ordered life cyclonically. She has different values and opinions to Tom, and makes this very clear from the start; Summer: There’s no such thing as love, its fantasy. Tom: Well I think you’re wrong
Summer: Okay well, what is it that I’m missing then? Tom: I think you know when you feel it Summer: I guess we can just agree to disagree. He also states that ever since a small boy, he has believed that he will never be truly happy until he finds ‘the one’. When he sees Summer, he immediately knows that she is perfect, she is THE one. He regards her so highly, places her on so high of a pedestal from the start, that he never actually looks at her as a living, breathing, mistake-making human, but rather as his perfect dream girl.
It is obvious from the start they were never meant to work out, Summer is new aged and chaotic and independent, whilst Tom loves order and structure, is Romantic and is desperate to label their relationship. Summer is portrayed as the villain as she sees the end before Tom does. Tom regards her so highly that he deliberately ignores the warning signs of a defunct relationship. Only after his younger sister, Rachel, says to Tom: “Look, I know you think she was the one, but I don’t.
Now, I think you’re just remembering the good stuff. Next time you look back, I, uh, I really think you should look again. ” Looking back on the relationship clearly is what truly starts Tom’s journey of self-discovery. The movie is not truly a love story, but a journey of self-discovery. Tom eventually realizes that he does not need a soul mate for him to be happy, but he needs to do what he wants. Tom finally pursues a career in architecture again after much pushing by Summer, which is truly what will make him happy.
At the pinnacle of his journey of self-discovery, he stands up during a work meeting and yells; “what does that even mean? Love? Do you know? Do you? Anybody? ” This shows his undermining of his original thoughts and values. He then continues on; “People should be able to say what they feel. What they really feel. Not you know some words some stranger has put in their mouths, words like love, that don’t mean anything. ” It is clear that Tom is now rejecting his previous values in place for his new ones. After his season with Summer he has awoken to what he truly believes now.
He reconfirms these beliefs when he bumps into Summer again for the last time; Tom: You know what sucks? Realising that everything you believe in is complete and utter bullsh*t. That sucks. Summer: “What do you mean? Tom: Oh you know, destiny and soul mates, true love and all that childhood fairy-tale nonsense. The idea of the love story was used to convey the true journey of self-discovery. The journey is mostly expressed through language, key quotes and serious discussion between the two main characters.
Another technique used to convey the journey is the way the movie flips back and forth in time through a succession of 500 days in which Tom and Summer knew each other. The techniques expressed in this film were the use of lighting, colour and sound, to influence how you felt about the characters. For example, when Summer is acting according to Tom’s expectations, she is wearing light warm colors, the film itself has a warm rosy tone, it is sunny outside and there is upbeat music with a positive tone playing.
Whilst Tom and Summer’s relationship is rocky, the colors are very drab and dark, it is often rainy if not overcast and there is slow sombre music playing or none at all. The camera angles also help convey the journey. Tom often sits in a park over the city and thinks, during these scenes the camera is panned out and shows the city with Tom sitting towards it. This helps shows that he is thinking and realising he is just a small section of the bigger picture. The camera often shows close ups, which convey intimacy.
The primary similarity linking the chosen text, (500) Days of Summer, and the core text of Bukowski’s works, is that they both are about journeys of self-discovery. They share themes of loneliness, alcoholism and women. Both texts are expressed via the language is very colloquial and casual ways. In (500) Days of Summer the character undertaking the journey, Tom, says; “loneliness is underrated. ” One of Bukowski’s works: Young in New Orleans shares this thought when Bukowski writes; “as I heard the rats moving about the room, I preferred them to humans. Both texts share loathing of menial work, to some extent. Bukowski outlines the hatred of working in at least two of his poems Spark (“I always resented all the years, the hours, the minutes I gave them as a working stiff”) and Looking for a Job (“and he said, hell, you don’t want a job, and I said hell no, but I need money”). Tom worked writing corny greeting cards for four years and hated the work, which he thought was pointless and draining. Bukowski’s works and (500) Days of Summer are both very relatable in some contexts, but upmost in their undertaking of the journey of self-discovery.