500 Days of Summer: Summer’s Perspective

Summer
Summer

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.)

Tom and Summer’s first encounter.

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.

500 Days of Summer
Summer begins to worry the relationship is something more for Tom

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.

Expectations vs RealityThis 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

For Tom’s perspective, click here!

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13 Comments Add yours

  1. arena23 says:

    Great review! Brilliant vocabulary and tone 🙂
    Check out mine! http://moviereviewsdirect.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/500-days-of-summer/
    All the best x

    1. Alex Delaney says:

      Thanks very much! Definitely agree with your comment “the kind of film that will make believers have faith again – both in Hollywood and in love.”. Well said!
      Thanks again x

  2. Ju C says:

    God! thats bullsh*t. Tom wouldn’t’ve fallen in love so deeply, if summer didn’t gave tom hope, if she just declined tom’s confession at first, if she didn’t took the relationship further… it’s even too far. Admit it Summer’s a bitch.

    1. Alex Delaney says:

      Haha, it’s just to offer both perspectives! Read the other half for Tom’s POV.
      But yes, while she may have acted in a way that led him on, she says very clearly that she doesn’t want anything serious, so he knows what he’s getting himself into and does it anyway – but who wouldn’t have?

  3. I am a guy but I agree with you on most things – Summer was certainly not a bitch or an ice queen. But I disagree with you on one other thing – that Tom was at fault. One book I read had a quote where one character tells another that “we do not choose who we fall in love with” (or something like it) and I think that is what applies here. Love is not something that you can logically think about and control. So for me neither Summer nor is at fault. It’s simply human nature.

    1. Alex Delaney says:

      I agree completely! You can’t help who you fall for, and Tom of course could not help that he fell in love with Summer. However, Summer does tell him from the offset that she isn’t looking for that, so neither is she to blame when things end badly.
      But Tom COULD (theoretically) have avoided the heartache if he had listened to her and stayed away – but of course, very few people would actually have had the strength to do that!

      Thanks for the comment, and thanks for reading!

  4. Alex Knt says:

    This is actually a very good analysis and interpretation of the movie and I totally agree to most of your points, but I think a little different about Summer.
    I’m not sure if I get the directors/authors intention right, so I might be totally wrong.
    What I think is that Summer does say in the beginning that she’s not looking for a relationship and rather wants to have fun, and then as they start seeing each other regularly she slowly starts falling in love with Tom, but doesnt really know what to think about it.
    As you said, I think Tom is totally focused about thinking that he’ll only be happy when he finds the women of his dreams instead of also focusing on his carreer, that he forgets what Summer actually feels. In my opinion Summer does want to fall for him, but he just doesnt behave/treat her like she wants him to.
    Theres this scene where Tom’s little sister tells him that he might take a closer look at his memories with Summer where you can actually see that Tom really doesnt understand a bit how she feels and I guess in the end that’s the reason why she broke up with him.

    1. Alex Delaney says:

      I would definitely agree with you that her feelings towards Tom possibly start to change, however she never tells him this. While her behaviour may change subtly as her feelings do, she’s never quite sure (as she admits) whether she loved him or not, so she didn’t risk saying anything to him, which in my opinion was the right thing to do.
      Glad you liked the article and thanks for commenting!

  5. I’d agree Tom was not so much in love with Summer, but rather with the idea of her because he didn’t see every side, and he made her out to be what she was not plenty of times.

    I do think in some ways Summer inspired Tom to change his life, but the commitment question made it difficult for him to actualize the full picture he had in mind for their relationship.

    When they met at the bar Tom was faced with the challenge of questioning the definition of love, which he failed initially and dodged it throughout their relationship. Eventually he did doubt the authenticity of it, it hurt him for the most part but it was beneficial with Autumn who signified (hopefully) a changing point in his life.

    Check out my review:
    https://michaelarnold2012.wordpress.com/2015/01/25/500-days-of-summer-2009-film-review/

    1. Alex Delaney says:

      Hi Michael,
      I agree completely! His avoidance of the matter was as much a part of the inevitable collapse of the relationship as anything else. Had he perhaps been honest with Summer, and more importantly himself, from the start he might not have ended in the same situation…

      …but then everyone’s a fool for love!

      Thanks for commenting and I enjoyed your review 🙂

  6. TIS says:

    I always tried to read into what the red head from Brown actually meant by her facial expression at the end of her 3 questions to Tom.
    And from my cellphone, that’s how I ended up here : )
    Tom screwed this up from the night his drunk friend let the cat out the bag.
    He started putting the odds out of his favor.
    When Summer asked if he liked her as just friends he should have said ‘no.’
    She took the ‘yes’ and strangled him with it throughout the movie.lol But that’s the point of the movie.
    She kept reminding him of just being friends and just ‘liking’ him. He was too easy
    going with whatever parameter she had set. He wasn’t her alpha guy. Maybe he needed to be just a tad bit more of a leader. He was too mushy/push overish and she pushed him….away. when she came over after he was punched, he started right back up with being okay with no title and she went right back to pushing him over. For goodness sake, he already had her in bed so draw the line and hold your ground. If it works great/if it doesnt part ways instead of slowly drowning yourself. I believe that both persons in a healthy relationship can make decisions. She only called the shots in this one so it didn’t look too healthy.
    His sister said to tell her how he had felt and just get it over with or she’ll surely end up with a guy and that’s what happened. Tom’s little sister told him to stop being a pussy. Is it to say Tom didn’t fight for Summer’s love? Was he too wimpy? Summer probably thought to herself how could she settle for a guy that settled for a greeting card job over being a great architect because he just didn’t know why?
    It was a learning lesson for Tom and hopefully he did better with autumn.
    Very entertaining movie. I really liked it a lot. Glad I found your article.

    1. Alex Delaney says:

      Thanks for your comment, glad you enjoyed the article!
      I agree with you, if Tom had been honest from the start then they wouldn’t have ended up taking things as far as they did because Summer would’ve ended things right there.
      Also when things did start to take off with them, if he has been a bit more assertive and showed her how he truly felt, it may have dissuaded her from the uncertainty that she admits she felt!

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