Happy birthday ‘(500) Days of Summer’: Here’s what Summer taught me about love

I knew I had to watch it. It was 2009 and my summer playlist was already booming with She & Him and Regina Spektor, but once I saw the trailer for the indie delight 500 Days of Summer (starring our very own Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt), I knew that I had to watch it the day it came out, which I did, dragging my friends to see a movie they had no idea would be about.

The two-minute trailer told me two things: The soundtrack was going to be amazing (Smiths people!) and this wasn’t going to be any ordinary love story, as the narrator warns us beforehand. I was right.

500 Days of Summer turns six today, and I couldn’t be happier that years later, its received the cult following it always deserved. It rightfully holds its place in romantic comedy cinema-wedged between the likes of Annie Hall and When Harry Met Sally—a true gem for taking the ordinary boy-meets-girl story and making it into a relatable work of art.

When the end credits rolled, accompanied by a Mumm-Ra track, I knew I had not only seen what would still be one of my favorite movies, but that I was without a doubt on Tom Hanson’s side. To me, Summer was the delightful but heartbreaking girl who was crazy for ending things with Tom—an indie sweetheart who has been waiting for this moment to meet the love of his life.

I mean come on! Right? Why would you break up with Tom? Not only was he adorable, but also he and Summer had three major things in common: style, music and humor.

That was my train of thought six years ago, a conflicted 500 Days fan who would rummage through the shoe section of Urban Outfitters just to find a pair similar to Summer’s, but still fuming with anger: I liked her, but I still thought she was in the wrong for breaking Tom’s heart. Yeah, she did tell Tom she wasn’t looking for anything serious, but she also strung him along, which I thought was a definite no-no.

Now that I am older and “wiser” (as in now I know not to put the colors and whites together when washing ‘wiser’), I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all Summer. Boy, girl, don’t matter—Summer is all of us, and we at one point, have been a Summer to a Tom before. This however does not make us heartbreakers—this makes us human.

After numerous break-ups, make-ups and, admittedly, friends with benefits, I’ve realized from experience that Summer was in fact never in the wrong here, but actually it was Tom who broke his own heart. Joseph Gordon-Levitt once said in an interview with Grantland that 500 Days of Summer is one of the most misinterpreted movies he’s ever been involved with because, according to Gordon-Levitt, Tom “…was really quite guilty of projecting a fantasy onto this girl that she didn’t necessarily deserve, and that, honestly, he was pretty wrapped up in his own selfish point of view.” Hmmmm…

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has got a point; just because someone is in love with you and hopes you’ll be “the one” doesn’t mean you must be that person’s love. Yes, we’ve all heard the friend-zone stories, and even have argued, at one point, that Andie should’ve picked Duckie, but it’s OK if Andie didn’t see Duckie that way in Pretty in Pink, and it was perfectly OK if Summer didn’t seen Tom in that way too. It’s also OK if you don’t think of someone in that sense just because they like you.

500 Days of Summer teaches you (at least it definitely did for me) that falling in love should be an honest experience, it shouldn’t be a pressured one, and that we should do what we want, like Summer did, without apologies. We’ve all been hurt, and we’ll likely hurt others too, but it’s like what Tom’s sister Grace says in the movie: “Just because some girl [or boy] likes the same bizarro crap as you doesn’t make them your soul mate.”


(Images via Fox Searchlight)

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