In collaboration with fellow blogger, Josh Connolly of The Connolly Sessions, this is one half of a two-part post offering opposing perspectives of the film 500 Days of Summer.
500 Days of Summer is the story of a guy, Tom, who falls in love with a girl, Summer. But this is NOT a love story. The film follows the course of their 500 day relationship; through the highs and lows, from beginning to end – though not in chronological order.
When Summer ends the relationship, Tom is confused, broken and bitter. He replays every moment of their time together over and over again in his head, searching for the first signs of trouble, and ultimately, he blames Summer: But does Summer lead him on, or is Tom to blame for his own misery? Josh is arguing for Tom’s point of view, I’m arguing for Summer’s. (I hear you ask why… Because why not, that’s why. We just love this film.)
Let’s start at the beginning (seems like an obvious place to start). Tom and Summer meet, at work, and their first few encounters are brief. At a work Karaoke night, Tom, his friend McKenzie and Summer get drunk together, and Summer professes that she thinks love is a fairy tale.
A few days later, Summer kisses Tom in the copy room at work, and their relationship begins to develop from there – but, and this really, is one of my first points – not once does Summer refer to Tom as her boyfriend, or describe the two of them as in a relationship. On the night that they first have sex, Summer tells Tom that she isn’t looking for anything serious, and asks him if he’s ok with that: it’s already obvious that she’s worried he is looking for something more.
But Tom has already fallen for Summer. Despite her warnings that she doesn’t believe in love, or long-term relationships, he desperately tries to break through ‘the wall’ Summer has built around her heart, something no one before him has managed to do. He starts to look for signs that the wall is coming down, and that she is falling for him too.
And this, for me, is really the problem. I don’t think Summer was ever anything but honest with Tom. Sure, she may have been confused – she herself admits she wasn’t sure if she loved him or not – but she kept these thoughts to herself. From the very beginning Summer explicitly told Tom she didn’t want a serious, long-term relationship, she never tells him that she loves him, and she never even describes him as her boyfriend; Tom just convinces himself she’s lying, and that she feels something deeper.
I’m not convinced Tom is ever actually in love with Summer, I think he’s in love with the idea of her. He loves that she inspires him and makes him feel like he can do anything, but fails to notice that his life hasn’t actually changed: it’s not until they break up that Tom is finally motivated to quit his mundane job and follow his dream. Tom never sees the relationship for what it is, only what he wants it to be.
This scene is the perfect example of that: the image above is taken from a scene where Tom goes to a party at Summer’s apartment, after they have broken up, expecting them to get back together; instead he discovers that she’s engaged. Distraught, he flees the party.
Tom’s expectations are based on a chance reunion with Summer at a mutual friend’s wedding; they talk, laugh and share a dance, but Summer never suggests she wants to get back together. Tom has built up his expectations, based on his interpretation of what happened at the wedding, rather than what actually happened. As far as we (the audience) know, she didn’t do anything to give him the idea that she wanted them to get back together.
Shortly after Summer and Tom break up, Tom’s friends set him up on a blind date. Tom ends up getting drunk and telling the girl all about Summer. When he’s finished she says:
“Can I ask you a question? She never cheated on you? She never took advantage of you in anyway? And she told you upfront that she didn’t want a boyfriend?”
He responds to every question affirmatively.
So, to sum up my view; Tom brings the mess on himself. I feel for him, I really do, but I don’t think Summer ever really leads him on. He fell in love with a girl, who didn’t love him back, and blamed her when it ended – It’s a situation I’m sure a lot of people have found themselves in – but ultimately, he only had himself to blame for not ending it before his feelings for her started getting serious.
I’ll leave you with the immortal words of The Buzzcocks –
Ever fallen in love?
In love with someone
You shouldn’t’ve fallen in love with