Reseña: 500 Days of Summer

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Como motivo del día de San Valentín / el amor / la amistad, he decidido desempolvar esta reseña escrita para cuando 500 Days of Summer estrenaba en las salas de cine puertorriqueñas (o sea, en Fine Arts Café). Desde entonces mucho ha cambiado: Zooey Deschanel es una estrella del rock/pop indie además de ser una reconocida actriz, Joseph Gordon-Levitt se convirtió en una estrella de acción como parte del reparto de Inception y Marc Webb, quien debutaba aquí como director, ha sido otorgado la franquicia de Spiderman por Sony.

500 Days of Summer fue bien recibida tanto por la crítica como por la audiencia y es considerada un clásico moderno del cine romántico – ¿así que qué mejor momento para volverla a ver que en el mes de febrero? A continuación la reseña (en inglés).

My 500+ Days of Summer

Originally published: September 5, 2009

So… that was a bit awkward! Not ‘fly down in public’ awkward, but still. I went out with my girlfriend to the movies and caught the summer’s (probably) only worthwhile ‘romantic’ film, 500 Days of Summer – being hip to the charms of Zooey Deschanel and ‘the little kid from 10 Things I Hate About You’ (I kid Joseph Gordon-Levitt, both The Lookout and Brick are solid). I expected a decent ‘date movie’ (it was) but did not expect to be constantly reminded of my own Summer, a girl who some years ago stepped into my life, and over it a few times during the chaotic period that was my late-college-failed-grad-school-attempt-return-to-Puerto-Rico-years.

Without spoiling much, the movie presents viewers with a hodgepodge of scenes from a relationship – Gordon-Levitt’s character dates the titular Summer – that went sour over a period of 500 days, in seemingly random order. And while I was constantly reminded of the joys of being in love and feeling loved by the hand holding mine and the head occasionally resting on my shoulder throughout the movie – my mind did wonder back to those years I felt I’d lost to Summer too.

I remember my first girlfriend warts and all – which is incredibly refreshing – since it humanizes my memories of our time together, balances my emotions towards her (which were, are, and probably will forever remain of an incredible variety), and allows us to remain civil and even friendly throughout the years. Even as we dated I was very much aware of her flaws (with her constant reminding me and all – ;-P) – and they made her all the more interesting to me. They also helped me get over our relationship. But Summer was different. She spoke my language – an artist! plays guitar! Ivy league! listens to Weezer! reads Nick Hornsby! And she took me to her movie screenings, art studio, photography darkrooms – even made me her subject once or twice. I had never dated someone I felt was so like-me before and I was utterly bewitched by her.

I remember, in the very beginning, when we met as summer students at a local university, we started sitting together in class. Being notorious for doodling in my notebooks, I sketched away as our teacher explained some equation or other, painfully aware of Summer, who was sitting besides me. I glanced over to her, sighed, and rolled my eyes – “remind me again, why did we take this class?”. But in my heart I knew destiny had lured me into this random summer course in physics just so we could meet and not because it was a requirement for the architecture graduate program I wanted to attend in a couple of years. Summer grabbed the edge of my notebook, pulling it closer to her and said: “Did you just draw that? Weird. I always draw that exact same thing.” Another time she’d drawn along the edge of my notes during class, totally unaware that she had invaded my ‘personal space’ instead of drawing in her own notebook. Who was this girl? Where did she come from? When would we marry?

But our relationship went nowhere – slow. For about three years. During the time of my infatuation, I often felt insecure, under-appreciated, used, and heartbroken. And I always kept coming back for more – thinking it was meant to be. When I was living in New Jersey, she once took a trip up to NYC from Boston with her art class. They were going to visit the MOMA and she wanted me to come with her and show her around the city afterward. Ecstatic – I skipped my architecture studio for that day and headed over to the city, ready to spend a beautiful day out in the company of Summer. After the MOMA, we separated from the group and spent our few hours together walking around, searching for art supplies, talking, and very much enjoying each others conversations. I felt something and I sensed that so did she.

We decided to end our evening at a cozy Italian restaurant downtown and as I remember, enjoyed a great chicken parmigiana with spaghetti that was as authentic to New York as you could wish for. And then she brought up the guy she was dating. My jaw, arms, and heart dropped. If devastation is too strong a word, let’s just say that the hot sauce I had just been given to swallow was the Devil’s secret recipe and I wanted to cry a river whose currents would take me back to Puerto Rico, and back in time, delivering me – as a baby – right into my mother’s arms. I spoke not a single word more that night as I walked her to her bus and took the train back home, crestfallen – looking forward to some homework or studio assignment.

Was it always like that? No… it wasn’t. We ended up spending some time ‘being together’ or whatever you want to call it (but watch out with those labels, Summer types seem to hate them!). And it was ok, I guess, although in hindsight I can’t seem to fathom what drew me to her with such force. Which takes me back to the movie. There’s a line in there, spoken by the movie’s least probable yet most insightful character, that goes something like: “I know you think she was the one, but I don’t. Next time you look back, I think you should look again.” That is THE best post break-up advice any precocious preteen soccer-loving kid sister could ever give you so don’t take it lightly.

My Summer, for all the beauty and inspiration she brought into my life, was often a cold-hearted bitch to me. And although it saddens me to reach those conclusions – after all Summer and I were close for a long time and shared much of our roller-coaster lives during that period with each other – the fact that I blinded myself so as to not realize how one-sided my feelings were probably hurts the most. But better to face those feelings head first than to continue to fool oneself out of fear (whatever that fear may be) – and deprive oneself of being loved back.

I think I could have written this movie – and I’m sure many of you out there too. Maybe next summer one of us will.

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Empresario, escritor, productor y diseñador radicado en San Juan, Puerto Rico. Fundador y Editor-en-jefe de Puerto Rico Indie. Si tuviese que vivir por el resto de su vida escuchando solamente cinco discos, en estos momentos seleccionaría: "Fabulosos Calavera" de Los Fabulosos Cadillacs, "Girlfriend" de Matthew Sweet, "Marquee Moon" de Television, "Lateralus" de Tool y "Staring At The Sea" de The Cure.