(500) Days of Summer-Thoughts and Analysis

All the signs were there.

“It’s love, it’s not Santa Claus”

 

She just wasn’t the right person for you. It’s tough to realize it or accept it at the time because one is so infatuated and/or in love with a certain person. There are so many signals telling you that the two of you are not a good match but because of the good qualities in your significant other at the time, it’s hard to accept the truth. At the end of the day, all the heartbreak and moments of misery were totally worth it because they made you grow into a better person, one who will no longer make the same mistakes he or she made in their youth. That’s what (500) Days of Summer is all about.

Tom is so in love with the idea of Summer that he completely ignores all of the things that she has been telling him all along. From the get-go, she let him know what type person she was and what type of person she wasn’t. Tom was too blinded by the stunning beauty to actually take in any of what she was saying. While romantic comedies tell us that Tom and Summer should be together and/or belong with each other, any person actually watching the movie will realize that Tom and Summer are polar opposites and while the idea of the two as a couple is an attractive one, the reality of it says something completely different. In Tom’s eyes, Summer is perfection, but perfection has no depth.  Summer’s not a girl, she’s a phase. Tom was just too close to the image to see the complete picture.

While the idea of soul-mates may be something straight out of the movies, one can be very happy with numerous people. But then what happens when the relationship runs out of steam? Then you just have two people who really aren’t that compatible. That’s what happens here. Only Tom is completely oblivious to it and instead Summer is forced to be the dickish voice of reason. While no one in the film is a villain, Summer, at times, is painted that way. But really she did nothing wrong as she had told Tom from the start that she wanted nothing serious. Where the audience is almost forced to hate her comes towards the end of the film. We as an audience, especially in romantic comedies, have been trained to believe that the two main characters will end up together no matter what, which is obviously not too realistic. Here it hits very close to home. We find out that there will be no happy ending for the two as a couple as it is revealed, in one of the most memorable movie scenes of all-time, that Summer is now engaged. Tom angrily walks off, tears in his eyes and heartbreaking music playing.

The film then enters its darkest phase as Tom in inconsolable. Everything that made him smile, now makes him depressed. Then one day, it’s all over. He finally accepts what Summer (and the audience) have known all along. Summer just wasn’t the one for Tom. In a final brilliant scene between the two, closure is reached. Tom sincerely wishes the best for Summer as he wonders (as do we) how this impulsive and somewhat cold woman will be able to maintain a loving relationship. She does let him know that he was right all along though and love is possible for even the greatest cynics. Tom goes off on his journey, with his head up and gets to walk away from Summer on a positive note. While the lines hurt (“I just knew what I never knew when I was with you” or “You never wanted to be someone’s girlfriend and now you’re somebody’s wife) they were needed.

Then when you least expect it, Summer is over and here comes Autumn (literally). Some will complain about the final scene and feel that it was too predictable and/or wasn’t needed but I feel it was both welcome and needed. Things do happen like that (it happened to me). You finally meet the person you actually know you should be with, have an instant connection and realize that the previous relationship, while both fun and miserable at times, shouldn’t have gotten to you so much. You realize it was merely a stepping stone to something greater. It was also needed because not only did it bring out good things, it also brought out many negative things and lessons of what should no longer be repeated. It brought growth. It was fun while it lasted, but ultimately it was not meant to be. You were just the last person to actually know this. I’ve had my heart broken before. Truly, truly broken. But when I look back at me in my heartbroken phase, it’s pretty hilarious, because it felt so much more extreme than it really was.

The beauty of this film is that it is very personal and gets me thinking about my own relationships and my own life. We’ve all hit rock bottom but at the end, there is always Autumn. The fact that this film can get me to go on and on about so many things or have me go in depth about so many things is a testament to what a great film it is. I didn’t even mention many of my favorite scenes like the dancing in the streets sequence, Summer crying while watching the end of The Graduate, etc. I could go on but really 900+ words probably is too much and I most likely have lost several of you by now. Maybe I’ll do a part two eventually that analyzes some other theme/aspect of this wonderful film. The fact that I can do that is a very good example of why this is at the top of my favorite movies list. 

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28 thoughts on “(500) Days of Summer-Thoughts and Analysis

  1. if summer was ‘not into something serious’ why did she marry that guy very quickly, why did she cry at the end of the graduate with the wedding? why did she try and catch the flowers and succeed. This is where the movie is being smart. Summer appears to not want anything serious but deep down she just hasn’t found the person she wants to be serious with yet, tom thinks he has, but hasn’t. i don’t think they’re polar opposites at all. i think they’re very similar. i think summer wants some one to settle down with just as much as if not more than tom, but hes isn’t the one for her, that explains her frustration at him with certain scenes. i think its possible summer wanted tom to be the one for her in a way, but he didn’t act how she wanted her ‘one’ to act. punching the guy at the bar etc. i think summer saying she didnt want anything serious was a half truth, i think she wanted the wedding and marriage, but after her bad childhood with her parents, she wanted it to be the right guy. tom wasnt it, but we feel bad for him because, as you say, he belives that she is the one for him, but his feelings for her are immature. he belives shes the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ type but shes not, behind her charm she is just like everyone else and does want stability, he just misreads her massively. i think the point of the movie is to show how we expect the cinematic fairytale dream romances to work, but they’re shallow and dont, and real love is nothing like the movies, movie love is an unsustainable unproportianted fairytale version of love created to give the audience an intense feeling to the audience, and in no way to reflect real love. the mistake people make is believing it does. buuuuuuuuuut to some extent, destiny and fate do have some grounding, as summer says to tom at the end of the movie. the first half of the movie is smoke and mirrors, the second half is truths. summer isnt the pixie fairy tale dream girl, tom distorted her in his mind to make himself belive she was, she didnt even ACT like she was. and thats the basic centric. i agree with most of your points, even if some of the paragraphs are ripped directly of other websites and quotations by the director. i just feel you missed out on the point that summer is actually looking for something serious imo, its just not tom, and i think key points in the movie show that she is much more down to earth and not like toms made her up in his head. the view from toms favourtie spot is also allegorical of his view of women in general. really, this movie is about toms mind, and i think the summer we yearn after is also the fake one in toms mind. i think the whole movie is played out half in his mind and half in the real world, and some scenes are purposely directed to make summer seem like tom seems her. from the way the camera works around them, the way it pans to his smiles and stuff etc etc. very very smart movie, people dont realise it i think. probs the best love film of the last ten years in terms of depth and analytical possobilities.

    1. I feel like she met and married that guy so quickly because Summer was such an impulsive person, as shown and told many times throughout the movie. I feel like her crying at the end of The Graduate was her relating to that film. In the end of that film, they had just gotten married, the adrenaline rush is now over and they stare at each other, like, “Now what?” They didn’t really love each other like that, my interpretation at least, and now that all that pomp and circumstance is over, how will they survive if they don’t really love each other. Summer didn’t love Tom like that and probably felt like the characters in that film. She probably felt like she was wasting his and her time. Which is why she broke up with him not too long after. Again, my opinions. Hopefully, I’ll be able to respond to some of the other points when I have more time, but for now, thanks for the comment and your healthy opinions. I just love talking about this movie.

    2. Hi David

      Great blog

      I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY with your observations rather than the blog above yours.

      The MAIN thing I can’t seem to work out is how he falls so short of being her perfect man-to me they seem to be quite overlapped

  2. I thought this was a very good analysis of this movie. I have watched this movie at least 8 times, and every time i seem to pick up on something new. I do agree that Summer isnt as awful as the movie tries to paint her to be. To an extent, Summer did nothing wrong as she told him up front that she didnt want anything serious. However, I do think that Summer does screw over Tom when she dances with him at the wedding, when she sleeps on his shoulder on the train. Meanwhile, she has already met the dude she ends up marrying while reading Dorian Gray (very interesting choice of book since Dorian does resemble the perfection of Summer) in a deli.

    Also, I thought it was very interesting how Tom’s favorite movie at a young age was “The Graduate”, yet it is also the movie that Summer cries after seeing. I think it addresses the polar opposites that Summer is truly afraid of love disappearing after marriage (parents divorced, doesnt believe in love), while Tom has a very strong commitment to finding true love. I think that Summer and Tom are very, very similar, yet their only difference is their commitment to finding love.

    What i appreciate most about this movie is the connection immediately established with Tom. The viewer immediately learns about his ideologies within the first five minutes of the film. You learn how his main goal is to find true love. Also, he knows Summer could possibly be “The One” right from the get go. Not after he hooks up with her, not after he sleeps with her, but as soon as he sees her. I really love that the movie establishes this. In other chick flicks, you can always tell that the guy/girl likes the other, but not to the point where its love, that only enters the movie once they have hooked up. But in 500 Days of Summer, you know that Tom immediately knows that Summer could potentially be “The One”. The movie also really connects with the viewer because it shows how tough it can be to be “the good guy”. I mean, Tom Hansen is a very nice guy. Yet, he endures so much pain and finishes in second. Summer ends up marrying another guy very quickly. I wish more younger girls would respect the role of “the nice guy”, who often finish second to the forward douchebag guy who only wants to sleep with them. The nice/good guys are alway the underdog, every time.

    Wow that was quite a rant. Any feedback is always appreciated, i love to discuss this movie. Also, does anyone know if they ever show the dude that Summer marries? I know there are a couple of guys at the party that Summer is seen introducing to one another, but i could never distinguish if one of them is the fiance.

    1. Great analysis, and thanks for adding to the conversation. I believe that her fiance/husband is quickly shown during the expectation vs. reality scene. Summer is shown introducing him to friends.
      While Summer is not an awful person, as you said it was pretty awful of her to lead on Tom by dancing with him and then sleeping on his shoulder all while she was already seeing her future husband. It’s at this point in the film, where it absolutely looks like the two will be getting back together. While that would have happened in any other romantic comedy, I found it a great little twist and so fitting that it went completely the other way with that classic and heartbreaking expectation vs. reality scene.

  3. Summer is insecure ( which is normal for her age) so she says she does not want to commit but keeps feeding tom a line of hope by her actions ( dance, tears, head in shoulder) even at the end she visits his favorite spot and takes his hand. Tom feels awkward and confused for this dual symbolism but at the end he gets over it and starts a new relationship.
    Questions that remain unanswered
    Will summer regret her decision
    I don’t think so but in the future when her ego is low she might try to visit Tom again.
    Will the relationship with Autumn Work for Tom?
    I really would hope so . A nice guy like him deserves it,
    but he should never look for Summer again.

  4. Great analysis-es of the movie stated here. To me, the ending of the movie (where Tom meets ‘Autumn’) is completely ‘grey’. Take a look at the final quote of the movie: “If Tom had learned anything, it was that you can’t ascribe great cosmic significance to a simple Earthly event. Coincidence, that’s all anything ever is. Nothing more, than coincidence. Tom had finally learned there are no miracles, there is no such thing as fate, nothing is meant to be. He knew, he was sure of it now.” Did Tom really learned his lesson? (I guess not)
    And the final question is, will the same story happen again to Tom with ‘Autumn’? After all, the autumn season is not as warm as summer!

  5. I find the analysis provided so far has been very decent and interesting. I definitely appreciated what the original poster and Jim had to say, more specifically.

    Something interesting I found about Summer is her upbringing. Within the first couple minutes of the movie, we find out that Summer’s early childhood was depressing and harsh. Her parents divorce when she is very young and the narrator in the movie informs us that “she only loved her long dark hair and how easily she could cut it off and feel nothing.”

    Although some of you may overlook this small detail, I believe that the divorce of her parents affected her in such a way that she became incredibly cold, insecure and even unpredictable over the course of her life. Simply put, there is nothing else in the movie indicating otherwise. Aside from this divorce, her life seems to have gone “average” for the most part, which leads me to believe that such an event is very deep and significant in itself. It is due to her parents’ separation that she questions the very existence of love and even comes to the conclusion (about a fifth into the movie) that love simply does not exist.

    Seeing as how my own parents divorced when I was very young, I can definitely relate to what Summer experienced and how she has become over time. You can see from the very beginning that she is someone who is always very detached, unemotional and very sensitive when it comes to love. This is completely normal and typical for someone whose parents divorced at a young age because you don’t become like that out of nowhere. Albeit, her character is somewhat exaggerated when it comes to being unemotional and detached but the truth is that it stemmed from such an event.


    I could probably go on and on about this, but I think this is enough as an interpretation of her childhood and how it shapes her views on love and the way she becomes as a person.

  6. All responses combined, this movie illustrates the workings of all relationships and the contrast of idealism vs. realism. The biggest example of this theme is Tom and Summer’s view on The Graduate. Tom sees the movie romantically with the ending that love conquers all, which is why the audience connects with him, it’s what we all have been taught. While yes, Summer is detached, the only emotional connection she acheives is while crying at The Graduate, seeing the realism of relationships and it’s “now what” aftermath.

    The break-up, which I feel is Summer’s ephiphany after seeing the movie is the catalyst in her future actions. She’s known all the time she is hurt and detached, but does not learn from this and quickly marries. The reason this movie is brilliant is because this happens all the time. People are reckless with other people’s hearts and doomed to repeat mistakes. Summer still doesn’t realize other people’s feelings, invites Tom to her engagement party and fails to see how she lead him on or how infatuated he is with her. She thinks they are friends. Tom has idealized Summer the entire movie, the way you do idealize Summer as a season and the memories you have of it. But Tom grows, chases his dreams and when Autumn comes, he is more realistic. Summer does not grow and it can be said her new relationship will not last. Why else would she be at Tom’s spot? She now has romantic views of their relationship, perhaps regrets her hasty marriage, which mirrored the end of The Graduate and is now saying “now what?”

  7. Each and every one of these comments really opened my eyes to the possibilities in this movie. An aspect that seemingly was not touched on here is the fact that each kiss shown between Summer and Tom was initiated by Summer. Their first kiss, by the copiers, was initiated and ended by her. Tom desperately follows each of her cues and as Summer pulls away during the kiss, his desperation for her touch is shown in his posture. Tom places her, as someone earlier said, on a pedestal and because of that blindly follows her…almost like a puppy. That’s not attractive in a relationship. A quote from the character Sam in the movie “Perks of Being A Wallflower” is “It’s just that I don’t want to be somebody’s crush. If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am. And I don’t want them to carry it around inside. I want them to show me, so I can feel it too. I want them to be able to do whatever they want around me. And if they do something I don’t like, I’ll tell them.” Just like in this quote, Tom projects an image of his dream girl onto Summer, instead of truly loving her. Tom never really SHOWS Summer he loves her, he simply allows himself to be carried along for the adventure. Her adventure.

  8. This is realy a great analysis for the movie, it explained a respectful point of view which i see it very close to reality.its a repeated scenes with most of us in a way.

  9. I really appreciate all the thoughts here, was looking for some interpretive help. Jenna mentions how Tom is desperately following Summer’s cues; as she is the person who initiates everything and creates the change she wishes to see (she’s wearing the pants in the relationship). In my interpersonal communication class there is this concept called ‘Locus of control’. A person’s “locus” (Latin for “place” or “location”) is conceptualized as either internal (the person believes they can control their life) or external (meaning they believe that their decisions and life are controlled by environmental factors which they cannot influence). In the movie we see Tom blame the world it seems when things aren’t going well, he says something along the lines of, “Yeah, if I lived in a world where good things happened to me.” When Tom has just meet summer he tells her he has been working for the company for 4 years but doesn’t enjoy it, Summer asks him why he doesn’t do what he wants—be an architect. Tom responds with, “It didn’t work out.”

    It appears that Summer has an internal locus, while Tom has an external; I would argue this is an incompatibility throughout most of the movie, until at the very end when Tom seems to realize the he can make things happen (or so it seems) by quitting his job, reading up on architect books, and trying to get job interviews.

    -I appreciate all the input; I had to analyze this movie for a class.

    1. Wow I never thought about it in this way, thanks for sharing. It’s probably fair to say that someone who continuously lets themselves be taken by the tide will most likely end up being pushed to undesirable places (the external locus, as you describe it). At the end of the movie, we see Tom become more proactive in his life considering how he chooses to initiate his career as an artchietct and initiates his connection with Fall. Those are definitely indicating that he’s tired letting the world push him around and that he’s transitioning to becoming an internal locus. Again, great contribution. I really appreciated what you put forth.

  10. I really enjoyed reading all the comments. However, there must be a second story in here. Not between Tom and Summer, but of Summer and her new husband. I am curious to see if she told him the same things she told Tom when they first started seeing each other. Did she tell him she was not interested in something serious? Probably, but at what point did things actually change. There can really be a whole other movie about that relationship in and of itself.

  11. Every post has been great, but one thing that really stuck out to me was the fact that Tom fails to be Honest the entire relationship. This is a trap many people fall in and his sister calls him out by saying you “You are just afraid of what her response will be”, I really do believe that Summer would have loved Tom if Tom was vulnerable with her. Him not being honest with her, I believe ruined her attraction for him and did not allow them to be intimate. Think about all the conversations we watch them have in the movie, besides the one outside the bar and the one where Tom gets upset you never hear him say how he feels or him talk about his fears and aspirations(In a way where he is not deflecting). Summer opens up to him but you never hear Tom really open up to her and that limited their relationship.

    Contrast when Tom meets Autumn he is honest from the beginning “I really hope you don’t get this job” and him asking her out. She was attracted to him because he was honest and vulnerable which will allowed him to have the capacity of being more intimate with Autumn. Even if you watch their interaction at the end of the movie, it seems more fluid and natural than Tom’s and Summer’s was throughout their entire relationship.

    So I actually believe that the underlying principle of the movie is honesty and vulnerability. I believe that Summer relationship will work because she is honest, she constantly tells Tom “I like you” but you do not hear Tom say it back. Her going for the kiss at the office was an incredible act of courage, just labeling her as impulsive takes away from the fact that she is human and anyone who has gone for a first kiss in an area where it is not socially acceptable knows that takes courage no matter how impulsive you are. I think that Summer is marrying a guy who is bringing her on an adventure and thats what she wanted. As the person mentioned above she led with Tom, and it sounds as if her husband is leads her relationship(As far as the approach, showing up later, I just got the vibe that he had something he was working towards).

    Lastly, Summer wanted Tom to be an authentic person in his life. Constantly encouraging him to pursue his dream, I think this is something that gets glossed over. Summer lives authentically, she moved to LA because she wanted to, she does things because she wants to, while Tom did not and from my own dating experiences someone who lives authentically can’t really sustain a relationship with someone who is not, it compromises the integrity of your lifestyle in the long run.

    Tom grew and will look back at Summer as a beautiful relationship, one that woke him up and allowed him to live.

    We often hate our greatest teachers, when we fail to understand the lessons they tried teach us.

    Great movie and great analysis

  12. I think it was interesting how Jon mentioned the internal and external locus factor between Summer and Tom. Tom began in the movie as the type that felt like he had no control of many aspects in life, which is why he was in a job that wasn’t what he wanted. In the end, after the fling between Tom and a Summer is over, Tom begins to change his perspective, realizing he has control on his own life. I think if it wasn’t for Summer, he would still blame the world, which I believe shows that all experiences in life can change us for the better. Although at the time it may seem like a horrible heartbreak, we learn from those heartbreaks and they steer us into the right direction in life. People may regret wasting their time with someone, but in reality it is a learning experience that prepares us for a better relationship.

  13. iam in tom’s place(though a girl). this ain’t the appropriate place to share this but Idk where to vent it out. everything seems useless.. I feel helpless. But I hope il find my autumn :)… 😦 hope so

  14. I don’t know how to thank you. The post was a great read, in fact it was more than a great read. The timing couldn’t have been better, it’s been just a week since I found out that my ex started dating another guy. She seems to be happy, I wished her good luck though deep down I couldn’t accept it. But then thinking about it now, she did teach me lotta things about life. And like Tom, I too believe that my relationship and breakup with her was the best thing that could have happened to me. I never really opened up to her fearing that my vulnerabilty will be an attraction killer. But only now I understand that vulnerabilty is what brings two people close. Thanks for all the comments that are posted here, they really were very helpful.

  15. I just read it. I think this is my favorite movies. I totally agree with you but i just want to grab your attention to FATE, which basically summer up everything, especially at the end of the movie.
    this is happening with me right now
    Do you think should i do like Summer?

  16. All of the comments are very deep and reasonable, and I agree with most of them, but what I see from the get go is that they, Tom and Summer, could have been together. Summer, even though she wouldn’t admit it, was looking for love, as Tom was, but Tom constantly failed at being the man she needed. He was insecure and kind of a pushover from the very beginning. The scene after the karaoke bar, she gave him a chance to speak up, be a man, kiss her, but he did nothing and complied to being friends even though he was already in love with her. Had he grabbed her and kissed her, and had he behaved like a man that night, probably the whole story would have changed. He could have had the upper hand for once. But he backed pff and was weak and indecisive. To make a long story short, Tom was always a boy, not a man. He didn’t make her feel safe. She needed a man, not a boy. She never fell for him, she needed someone strong, someone she could not have her way with, she tested him and he failed every time. He was too weak for her

  17. Hey StraightEdgeIsBeautiful, thanks for the great post which summarizes the Tom-Summer relationship dynamic well. I think there’s a little something you’re missing though: Tom’s own insecurity and lack of self-confidence.

    It really explains most of his actions throughout the movie: how he does not take the initiative in starting the relationship, how he does not pursue his passion of being an architect, and why he walks away from Summer in the diner scene.

    He keeps waiting for the perfect person in his life and expecting that *after* this true love finds him, then his life will be great. But he never takes any action himself to make his life great. He just keeps pottering on at his miserable greeting card job. When Summer asked him why he was working there, he does not have a good reply.

    After Tom and Summer start dating, Tom thinks that he’s found that perfect person. He now thinks that everything in his life will fall into place through destiny and fate. The only thing that comes in the way of his storybook romance dream is Summer’s insistence on keeping the relationship casual.

    So Tom tries to prove to Summer that he is worthy of her. This is why he picks the fight in the bar. He’s not trying to uphold her dignity or his. He’s just trying to prove to Summer that he’s worthy of her. She sees through this, and which is why she’s initially upset about this. She just wants a simple fling, which she repeats again and again to him, but he keeps ignoring her words. So when they get back together, Summer once again says that “I can’t give you that, no one can” when Tom says he just wants to know if she’ll be there in the morning.

    Tom wants this relationship not because he actually loves Summer, but because he’s convinced himself that his life will fall into place after he heroically wins Summer over (like the protagonist in The Graduate). This is the same thread that most Rom-Coms try to follow: the couple meets, there is courtship, after which their lives get better through the relationship. (500) Days of Summer is trying to show that this traditional Rom-Com idea is misleading and bad. In reality, people are themselves responsible for making themselves happy, and the relationship is something that happens to make yourself even more happy.

    At the end of the movie (at the scene with the ball), Tom finally realizes that he’s just projecting his hate on Summer. He really just hates himself. His own job. His own life. That’s when he decides to take matters in his own hands. He realizes that if he’s not satisfied with his own life, then no “perfect” person can come in and complete his life for him. So he quits his old job with an interesting spiel against greeting cards since they’re a lazy and misguided way to express true feelings. (It may be that these types of sentiments and other pop culture is what led him to believe in the “finding the one will make my life perfect ” schtick in the first place.)

    Finally when Tom is pursuing what he actually wants in his life (architecture), he does not *need* anyone in his life anymore. He has taken charge of his own happiness. That’s why the ending with Autumn is important. Even if Autumn leaves him, or they just have a casual thing, he’s now on a solid emotional foundation in his own life. He’s simply not going to be needy anymore. So he takes the first step in asking her out since he’s not afraid of failure now.

    So yeah, I really enjoyed this movie since it showed such character development in Tom. He matures and grows in a way that most movie characters do not. Add to that a great directing style, awesome acting, good music, and quirky overall mood. Pretty good movie. While being an Anti-rom-com, it outshines nearly all the rom-coms out there.

    Ps: So about that last scene with Summer: Summer was telling Tom that his idea of “True Love” is not entirely wrong. True love exists, but you cannot just sit there and expect that it will make you happier. Summer found true love when she was not expecting it, so she felt that fate was involved, and that in the end you can find someone.

    Pps: So most people are rather uncharitable towards Summer, but I think that what she did was (in the most part) fair. There’s this one scene in the movie where Tom is on a casual date with some new girl, and she asks him a few questions, like “did she ever cheat on you, or lie to you?” etc. Tom’s answer is that she really didn’t do anything wrong to him. So Summer mostly gets a pass in my book. However, I don’t like what Summer does in the train/wedding scene near the end of the movie, since pretty much any decent person would tell their ex that they’re dating someone new (especially if they’re out for like a whole evening). But then again, Summer does say, “We’re having a dinner party”, which should have set off bells in Tom’s head, but he’s too caught up in his own thoughts to notice it. So that’s an incongruous part of the movie, but it does lead to one of my favorite scenes in it: the expectations/reality scene, which is pretty cool.

    Finally a quote from a friend, which summarizes Tom’s development well: “Relying on other people for happiness will ruin your life. As soon as you give people that power, you will forever be chasing happiness and you will never fulfill it.”

  18. Hey StraightEdgeIsBeautiful, thanks for the great post which summarizes the Tom-Summer relationship dynamic well. I think there’s a little something you’re missing though: Tom’s own insecurity and lack of self-confidence.

    It really explains most of his actions throughout the movie: how he does not take the initiative in starting the relationship, how he does not pursue his passion of being an architect, and why he walks away from Summer in the diner scene.

    He keeps waiting for the perfect person in his life and expecting that *after* this true love finds him, then his life will be great. But he never takes any action himself to make his life great. He just keeps pottering on at his miserable greeting card job. When Summer asked him why he was working there, he does not have a good reply.

    After Tom and Summer start dating, Tom thinks that he’s found that perfect person. He now thinks that everything in his life will fall into place through destiny and fate. The only thing that comes in the way of his storybook romance dream is Summer’s insistence on keeping the relationship casual.

    So Tom tries to prove to Summer that he is worthy of her. This is why he picks the fight in the bar. He’s not trying to uphold her dignity or his. He’s just trying to prove to Summer that he’s worthy of her. She sees through this, and which is why she’s initially upset about this. She just wants a simple fling, which she repeats again and again to him, but he keeps ignoring her words. So when they get back together, Summer once again says that “I can’t give you that, no one can” when Tom says he just wants to know if she’ll be there in the morning.

    Tom wants this relationship not because he actually loves Summer, but because he’s convinced himself that his life will fall into place after he heroically wins Summer over (like the protagonist in The Graduate). This is the same thread that most Rom-Coms try to follow: the couple meets, there is courtship, after which their lives get better through the relationship. (500) Days of Summer is trying to show that this traditional Rom-Com idea is misleading and bad. In reality, people are themselves responsible for making themselves happy, and the relationship is something that happens to make yourself even more happy.

    At the end of the movie (at the scene with the ball), Tom finally realizes that he’s just projecting his hate on Summer. He really just hates himself. His own job. His own life. That’s when he decides to take matters in his own hands. He realizes that if he’s not satisfied with his own life, then no “perfect” person can come in and complete his life for him. So he quits his old job with an interesting spiel against greeting cards since they’re a lazy and misguided way to express true feelings. (It may be that these types of sentiments and other pop culture is what led him to believe in the “finding the one will make my life perfect ” schtick in the first place.)

    Finally when Tom is pursuing what he actually wants in his life (architecture), he does not *need* anyone in his life anymore. He has taken charge of his own happiness. That’s why the ending with Autumn is important. Even if Autumn leaves him, or they just have a casual thing, he’s now on a solid emotional foundation in his own life. He’s simply not going to be needy anymore. So he takes the first step in asking her out since he’s not afraid of failure now.

    So yeah, I really enjoyed this movie since it showed such character development in Tom. He matures and grows in a way that most movie characters do not. Add to that a great directing style, awesome acting, good music, and quirky overall mood. Pretty good movie. While being an Anti-rom-com, it outshines nearly all the rom-coms out there.

    Ps: So about that last scene with Summer: Summer was telling Tom that his idea of “True Love” is not entirely wrong. True love exists, but you cannot just sit there and expect that it will make you happier. Summer found true love when she was not expecting it, so she felt that fate was involved, and that in the end you can find someone.

    Pps: So most people are rather uncharitable towards Summer, but I think that what she did was (in the most part) fair. There’s this one scene in the movie where Tom is on a casual date with some new girl, and she asks him a few questions, like “did she ever cheat on you, or lie to you?” etc. Tom’s answer is that she really didn’t do anything wrong to him. So Summer mostly gets a pass in my book. However, I don’t like what Summer does in the train/wedding scene near the end of the movie, since pretty much any decent person would tell their ex that they’re dating someone new (especially if they’re out for like a whole evening). But then again, Summer does say, “We’re having a dinner party”, which should have set off bells in Tom’s head, but he’s too caught up in his own thoughts to notice it. So that’s an incongruous part of the movie, but it does lead to one of my favorite scenes in it: the expectations/reality scene, which is pretty cool.

  19. I saw the movie and liked it and reading the comments most people are saying summer isn’t to blame. Well has everyone forgotten she had a guy which would turn out to be her fiancée. So for months she had an affair with Tom,going on dates making memories, watching movies etc. So not only did she string tom along but also her fiancée until she figured out what she wanted, which is why I think her role was as a sociopath not a good girl with good intentions. She was engaged and invited her old fling to the party and danced with him. I’m not saying tom wasn’t blinded by thinking he met a great girl and he did try and push the relationship further but at some point she could have broke it off when she noticed that he was really into her and not let her “fling without an attachment” lead to almost ruining a man. I did feel bad for tom having to find out like that and that she shows up at the park and wants to lay her guilt to rest made me feel like she didn’t really care for tom at all. Telling him deep secrets and letting it go that far is a sociopaths way of getting what they want and it doesn’t matter if they leave a mess behind.

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