(500) Days of Summer was released on DVD this week with minimal publicity. Breakup movies aren't the best Christmas presents, I guess. [Also, do I have to say that there are major spoilers below? I'm assuming everyone has seen it at this point.]
I got a second chance to see it and realized (much to my dismay) that my movie theater note-taking isn't as reliable as I once thought. My July review incorrectly says that Tom gets transferred to the "Sympathy and Grief" department, when it's actually the "Funerals and Sympathy" department. I think my interpretation is still better. Oh well.
A second viewing also allowed me to reflect a little bit on the progression of the film. It begins with Summer and Tom well after they'd broken up (Summer is in fact married at this point). You begin to realize that many of the scenes that Tom remembers throughout the film are from that last day of their relationship. Thank goodness Zooey's costumes are so distinctive, otherwise this would have been very confusing. Of course, that last day of their relationship is when they go to see The Graduate, and where Summer cries at the end. So...why is she crying at the end? It's hard to tell for sure, but I have a few theories.
1. Summer is unhappy with Tom. She's not paying any attention to the film and knows that in a few short hours their non-relationship will end. And she's sad and scared about what she has to do: break his heart.
2. Summer sees herself as Elaine, and Elaine's choice as a tragic mistake. In case you're unaware, let me ruin it for you: Mike Nichols ends The Graduate with Ben stealing Elaine away from her own wedding. They dash out and hop on the first bus they see. And, famously, Nichols keeps shooting the actors in the back of that bus till the film runs out. Perhaps since they weren't expecting to be on film that long and had no direction of how to act, Elaine and Ben's smiles and laughs turn into pursed lips, silences, and stares off into the distance. I go back and forth about this scene, hating it because it's supposed to be so deep and real, and loving it because, you know, it's so deep and real - euphoria fades, rash decisions are regretted, conversation runs out. Mark Webb chooses to focus on a moment of this scene where Elaine's smile fades first, while Ben continues to grin about his triumph. And maybe Summer does see this as Elaine running off with a lesser evil...someone who's OK, but who she's not actually in love with...and that resonates with her own situation.
3. Summer is really wrapped up in the movie and her crying has nothing to do with Tom. Was Elaine pregnant? Did she and Ben really even know each other that well? Where were they going to go? He slept with her mother! Gah! That's enough life and responsibility to make me cry. And maybe this is the most reasonable explanation for her desperate reaction. The Graduate is an unnerving movie for a directionless 20-somethings. And, as we see in many instances, although Summer cares for Tom, he's not the focus of her thoughts and energies. She does things that she wants to do and doesn't reflect much on Tom or his feelings. Thus, after the movie when she's trying to politely escape and he endearingly presses her to continue hanging out, she reaches her breaking point - he expects them to spend the whole day together, she just wants to do her own thing.
So...do any of these sound reasonable?