This post modern love story is never what we expect it to be — it’s thorny yet exhilarating, funny and sad, a twisted journey of highs and lows that doesn’t quite go where we think it will.
When Tom, a hapless greeting card copywriter and hopeless romantic, is blindsided after his girlfriend Summer dumps him, he shifts back and forth through various periods of their 500 days “together” to try to figure out where things went wrong. His reflections ultimately lead him to finally rediscover his true passions in life.
The film is presented in a nonlinear narrative, as it jumps from various days within the 500-day span of Tom and Summer's relationship, indicated by an animation that includes the day's number; this summary is a linear version of the events of the film.
On January 8, Tom Hansen meets Summer Finn, the new assistant to his boss. Tom trained as an architect but works as a writer at a greeting card company in Los Angeles. Following a karaoke night, Tom's friend and co-worker McKenzie reveals that Tom is attracted to Summer. During the next few months Summer and Tom grow closer, despite Summer's telling Tom that she does not believe in true love, and does not want a boyfriend.
Tom shows Summer his favorite spot in the city, which overlooks a number of buildings he likes, although the view is spoiled by parking lots. After several months of dating, Tom gets into a fight with a man who flirts with Summer, and they have their first argument. On day 290, Summer and Tom end their relationship after they see The Graduate, a film which Tom thinks shows true love. Tom does not take the breakup well, and Tom's friends call his younger sister, Rachel, to calm him down. Summer quits her job at the greeting card company. Tom's boss moves him to the consolations department, as his depression is not suitable for happier events. Months later, as Summer and Tom attend the wedding of their co-worker Millie, they dance at the wedding and Summer catches the bouquet. They sit next to each other on the trip home, and Summer invites Tom to a party at her apartment. He attends the party expecting the two to rekindle the relationship, but instead spends most of the evening alone drinking (unlike his expectations of the evening where Summer spends all her time with him) until he spots Summer showing off an engagement ring and realizes what kind of party it is, at which point he leaves close to tears. Tom enters a deep depression, only leaving his apartment for alcohol and junk food. After a few days, he returns to work with a hangover and after an emotional outburst, quits his job. He decides to rededicate himself to architecture, makes a list of firms, and begins to attend interviews.
On day 488, Summer sees Tom at his favorite spot in the city, and they talk. Tom states his lack of understanding towards her actions. Summer explains that he was right about the existence of true love and that she discovered in someone else all the feelings she had never been sure about with Tom. Summer holds Tom's hand. She says she is glad to see Tom is doing well. As she leaves Tom tells her he really hopes she is happy.
Twelve days later, on Wednesday, May 23, he attends a job interview and meets a beautiful girl who is also applying for the same job. They talk, and Tom learns she shares his favorite spot and dislike for the parking lots. Before entering the interview, he makes a date to have coffee with her afterwards. When he asks her name, she replies "Autumn" and Tom breaks the fourth wall to look directly into the camera.
Release Dates: 30 Sep 2009 (France), 08 Oct 2009 (Singapore), 02 Sep 2009 (United Kingdom), 07 Aug 2009 (United States)
Tagline: Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn't.
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Did you know? The studio never intended to include the documentary about love in the film, even going so far as to tell Marc Webb not to film it. The audience reaction during the first test screening convinced them otherwise. Read More
Revealing Mistakes Summer's heart shaped birthmark on the left side of her neck is is shown twice (same footage) but is then not seen in situations where it should clearly be visible (most notably during the wedding scene where she is dancing with Tom).
Continuity In the final scene together on the park bench, Summer can be seen wearing tall wedges. As she walks away from Tom, she is wearing flat sandals.
Continuity In the split shots from the Expectations/Reality scene Summer wears an engagement ring in the Reality point-of-view, which is seen first when she hugs Tom at the door. When he enters the apartment the shot is the same for both Expectation and Reality and in both Summer is no longer wearing the ring.
Continuity During the copy-room kiss scene, Summer only touches the back of Tom's head yet when she leaves Tom's hair is ruffled all over giving the impression of a passionate encounter.
Character Error For someone who is supposedly a trained architect, Tom's drawings display an odd discrepancy in perspective. Perspective issues are a beginner mistake an architect would have been trained to avoid during the first semester in architecture school.
Character Error When Summer says that their relationship is like that of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, Tom says that Sid stabbed Nancy seven times. He only stabbed her once.
Audio/Video Mismatch In the karaoke scene after Summer sings Sugartown the instrumentals are looped, but her voice is cut right after she starts singing the second verse, so we can hear the word "and..." but then nothing.
Miscellaneous Tom and Rachel are shown playing on a Nintendo Wii game console on day 11. Near the end of the film, the narrator says day 500 is Wednesday, May 23. The last time May 23 was a Wednesday was in 2007. Counting back, this means day 11 would have been January 18, 2006. The Nintendo Wii was not released until November 19, 2006.
Miscellaneous On day 303 early in the film, Tom receives an e-mail from Summer that she can't meet that week and hopes that means he's ready to be friends. The e-mail is dated May 7, 2008. On Day 500, Tom awaits an interview and the narrator says it was May 23. This is inconsistent with the rest of the movie which seems to be set in 2006 and early 2007.
Although he was not credited for it, Richard McGonagle is the narrator in this movie.
According to the DVD commentary, the writer estimates that 75% of the film actually happened to him.
The film is set in 2006-2007. (The narrator says at the end of the film that May 23 was a Wednesday. The last time May 23 was a Wednesday was 2007.)
Around the time of the movie's release, director Marc Webb shot a short video for the Internet, which featured Zooey Deschanel as Sid Vicious and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Nancy Spungen, in reference to a conversation in this movie.
During the flashback to Summer's job selling ice cream, Tom can be seen waiting in line.
The film's blue-centric color scheme was done to bring out Zooey Deschanel's eyes.
On the screens where the numbers of the days in the relationship are shown, the coloring and "mood" of the background art change to reflect the status of the relationship. Good days are brighter and bad days are darker.
Ian Reed Kesler, who gets in a fight with Tom at the bar, is credited as "douche".
The studio never intended to include the documentary about love in the film, even going so far as to tell Marc Webb not to film it. The audience reaction during the first test screening convinced them otherwise.
This movie marks the feature film debut of music-video director, Marc Webb.
Zooey Deschanel chose her own song for the karaoke scene, the Sugartown song.
During the office party, Summer and Tom get into a conversation about the validity of love. During the conversation, Summer makes a reference to Johann Wolfgang Goethe's 'The Sorrows of Young Werther'. Her line, when the idea for Tom to sing comes up, is: "I nominate young Werther here."
In the original screenplay, Summer, was depicted as a having cropped blonde hair to construct a more summer-like persona.
One thing that both Tom and Summer have in common is their love for "Bananafish." This was the name of a band which gained national prominence for a brief period in the 80's, in turn named for the first of J.D. Salinger's "Nine Stories": "A Perfect Day for Bananafish". Actress Zooey Deschanel who portrays Summer is herself named for another Salinger story, "Franny and Zooey".
Joseph Gordon-Levitt wears T-shirts for Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Unknown Pleasures", and The Clash's "London Calling" albums.
The documentary about love was originally much longer and included opinions from Summer, Rachel, Millie, and Tom's mother.
The New Hampshire greetings office and Tom's apartment were filmed in the same building.
When Tom first enters Summer's apartment, the camera focuses on a bowler hat with a green apple on top of it. This resembles the famous painting "The Son of Man" by René Magritte, one of Summer's favorite artists.
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