This is a story of boy meets girl, begins the wry, probing narrator of 500 Days of Summer, and with that the film takes off at breakneck speed into a funny, true-to-life and unique dissection of the unruly and unpredictable year-and-a-half of one young man's no-holds-barred love affair.
Tom, the boy, still believes, even in this cynical modern world, in the notion of a transforming, cosmically destined, lightning-strikes-once kind of love. Summer, the girl, doesn't. Not at all. But that doesn't stop Tom from going after her, again and again, like a modern Don Quixote, with all his might and courage. Suddenly, Tom is in love not just with a lovely, witty, intelligent woman--not that he minds any of that--but with the very idea of Summer, the very idea of a love that still has the power to shock the heart and stop the world.
The fuse is lit on Day 1--when Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a would-be architect turned sappy greeting card writer encounters Summer (Zooey Deschanel), his boss's breezy, beautiful new secretary, fresh off the plane from Michigan. Though seemingly out of his league, Tom soon discovers he shares plenty in common with Summer. After all, they both love The Smiths. They both have a thing for the surrealist artist Magritte. Tom once lived in Jersey and Summer has a cat named Bruce. As Tom muses, "we're compatible like crazy."
By Day 31, things are moving ahead, albeit "casually." By Day 32, Tom is irreparably smitten, living in a giddy, fantastical world of Summer on his mind. By Day 185, things are in serious limbo--but not without hope. And as the story winds backwards and forwards through Tom and Summer's on-again, off-again, sometimes blissful, often tumultuous dalliance it covers the whole dizzying territory from infatuation, dating and sex to separation, recrimination and redemption in a whirl of time jumps, split scenes, karaoke numbers and cinematic verve--all of which adds up to a kaleidoscopic portrait of why, and how, we still struggle so laughably, cringingly hard to make sense of love...and to hopefully make it real.