I’ve heard a lot of good things about this movie, and honestly, what self-respecting supposed ‘hipster’ girl doesn’t like — no, LOVE — Zooey Deschanel? She’s beautiful, she has the best style, the best hair, the best… everything! I want to be as cute as her, as talented as her, as sweet and pretty and smart and gentle-natured as her… she’s wonderful, in short. And a wonderful singer. And I have a hetero woman crush on her. Anyways, on with the review!
So I loved the movie. It reminded me a lot of Annie Hall (except without the Woody Allen touch that is so, so, so integral to that film) in the indirectness of its linear storytelling and even at some points, in the shot composition. Both films begin with that we know the guy got dumped, and then events unfold rather sporadically demonstrating how it happened. Annie Hall is obviously a classic, but the contemporary “version”, for lack of a better word, is certainly a stand-up film in its own rite.
Things that make the film work are numerous, but what I think is the MOST essential, is the amazing chemistry between Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Both of them have a sort of dorky charm and a relaxed vibe and fit together so beautifully, I totally bought their characters and completely believed them as this couple. Whenever they were together there was that indescribeable chemistry on the screen that just made the film THAT much more watchable. Pair that chemistry with a really hilarious skit, some surprising but relateable choices in storytelling (particularly note, the “expectations vs. reality” scene — we’ve ALL been there), and some really real contemplative scenes. It was simply lovely to watch and really, really sweet.
Now, the movie’s not PERFECT, and certainly not TRULY “unique”; the little girl with all the answers about romance who gleans laughs from her ‘men’ experience for one, is a romantic comedy convention that’s been gaining speed recently. Also, the ending scene is (and in fact WAS, for me) a little laughable and certainly too complete in an almost painfully embarassing way. And at times, the timeline seemed too short for certain events in the film to unfold. It didn’t ALL work for me, but… because I wanted to love, not just REALLY like the film so much, it was easy for me to suspend my disbelief.
The remarkable thing about this movie is, though sometimes breakup films come down to the side of the broken person, this film does not allow Zooey Deschanel’s gorgeous, quirky summer to become a villain at all; we root for her just as much as we root for him because this is a story about BOTH of them, not how one slaughters the other one. In this respect, it captures perfectly how it feels to truly love someone you can’t have; sometimes you HATE them. Sometimes you love the hell out of them and believe that they may take you back. Sometimes you think you’re over them but other times, you just realize your pipe dream is a pipe dream and become deeply saddened by it. And this is the side of unrequited emotion that doesn’t often get played out in a film. No, it’s not a perfect film but on a level of the heart, it certainly gets the emotions spot-on.
When I watched this film, I was jerked out for a moment when I wondered, why is there never a sympathetic female character who becomes heartbroken? Heartbroken women in films are either crazy spinsters or off-the-wall bitches who deserved to get dumped. When men get dumped in movies, they are usually always loveable losers who we root for and feel for and who are very real and very sweet. Even in this world of heartbreak, dumping and being dumped, there is still a gender double-standard in the cinema. I can’t even think of a movie where a woman gets dumped and we root for her the same way I was rooting for Gordon-Levitt’s Tom in this film, or even Jason Segal’s Peter in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Women get heartbroken too, and feel this way too. Let’s see it, H-Wood.
Anyway, this is a great little movie that says a lot about life and love and relationships, with uncannily hilarious/original culture references and a fabulous soundtrack (the staple of any good indie film these days is an impeccable soundtrack, after all). I’m pretty sure I could watch this 500 more times and learn more and more about the true nature of love each time. One of my favourite movies of the summer.