Wednesday, October 07, 2009

500 Days of Summer (2009)

scr. by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber

There's a lot to enjoy about this relationship comedy, much of it centring around its playful structure.

Pay attention to the difference between how Tom and Summer are presented. Tom is definitely the main character of the film: the story is presented mostly through his eyes, and it's sympathetic towards him. We have way less psychological access to Summer and what's going on with her; as a result, to Tom she appears to flip between being his dream girl and a complete bitch. And there's at least one point in the movie where Summer does something that makes no apparent sense whatsoever.

But ...

Here's the thing when you watch it: accept that Summer is not the main character but play a little mental game and pretend that she is the protagonist of the film. The one who has to make choices and change.

Go further and pretend that Tom is her antagonist. From the Elements of Persuasion:
Antagonists keep the Hero from achieving their goal.

Antagonists don't create conflict; they "clarify what the conflict is about"....
[Stories] aren't about 'defeating' the Antagonist, they're about us discovering
what we need to change in order to defeat them.

Keep that in mind and you might find the script's structure is not only playful but extremely balanced.

I highly recommend this film - so far it's in my top 5 for the year.
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