500 Days Of Summer (originally written March 11th, 2018)
It’s rare that I give any independent films a chance. Typically, I find them too amateur or artsy for my pretentious sixteen-year-old mind to appreciate. Be that as it may, whenever I do end up giving them a chance; I always find myself astonished by the levels of quality and passion within each one of them. There is nothing quite like watching a well made independent film. They possess the same allure of a big blockbuster, but the charm you can only find in old home movies from your family basement.
500 Days of Summer, directed by Marc Webb and written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, offers a realistic take on contemporary relationships that hits close to home for anyone who’s ever been a part of one. It subverts the tired trope of romanticizing unhealthy relationships, and instead, plays the main character, Tom, portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, for a callow fool due to the fact he believes in such unrealistic and contrived ideas about romance.
I have a feeling everyone has some type of interpretation about the love they put forth for the world to hear, but what I think many of us don’t understand is that we really don’t know exactly what love is. Love is intangible. It’s an enigma. I don’t believe anyone in this world is able to pinpoint exactly what it is, and what it does to our feeble minds. The way we view love is often manipulated by how it makes us feel at the time. It’s an ever-evolving concept.
For a period in my life I was convinced love didn’t exist; much like Tom’s love interest Summer, who is played by Zooey Deschanel. At this point in my life, however, I see so many happy people together it’s almost impossible to deny its existence. It makes me feel so inadequate, but just a few months ago the thought of being tied down repulsed me. Tom is the exact same way, he’s just like me and just like you too. I think that’s the true beauty of 500 Days of Summer. When you look back at your past failed relationships you often laugh at the silliness of it all, at least that’s what I do. You can make fun of all the weird things you said and did because, while at the time it certainly felt real to you; once you look back. It doesn’t. Time passes, people change, and in time, everything you think you know about love will have altered itself in the blink of an eye.
I watched 500 Days of Summer to feel upset. I watched it to feel some sort of superiority over the field of love. I watched it to feel bitter. Instead, what I got made me change my mind and question the ways in which I perceive it. It provided me a thought-provoking introspection into the world that we think we know all too well. Heartbreak.
The Lobster (originally written March 17th, 2018)
I’ve seen a lot of movies that take place in a dystopia. In fact, within the last few years, there has been a huge surge of films that have taken place in a dystopian world. The only purpose being for the author to criticize the grander scope of the world rather than a particular facet of it they find flawed. I don’t think it’s enough to find the whole world flawed without being able to divulge the specific forces making you feel such convictions. This is the problem I seem to find with most dystopian films I watch. However, The Lobster is able to breathe life into this over-saturated genre by properly using a creative dystopian setting for the purpose of evaluating what we perceive love should be.
The film takes place in a world which is entirely dictated by love; everyone must have a partner. If you don’t you’re sent to a hotel and tasked with finding a suitable mate in 45 days. If you fail to do so you are transformed into any animal of your choosing so you may start anew. The concept itself warrants a closer look, but what it reveals about society is much more fascinating.
We often worry about finding “the one” thinking perhaps we never will and as a result, we recklessly leap into commitment not realizing we had a choice the whole time. The Lobster, however, depicts what it would be like if that choice of commitment was revoked. The film trivializes love making it more of an obligation than something we normally perceive as special. In their world love should be something everyone should partake in.
Characters are able to find out if they’re compatible if they share a defining trait. For example; two characters are both short-sighted. It’s a connection sure, but it’s one that’s purely on a physical level that has nothing to do with the way they actually feel about each other. This makes the worlds current obsession with vanity more salient and shallow.
Further on in the narrative, there’s an alternative view cleverly juxtaposed that acts as a counter-argument for what society thinks love should be. The “loners” as they’re called in the film are comparatively not allowed to engage in any sort of relationship and instead emphasize the importance of individuality rather than partnership. In the loner’s world; love should be nonexistent.
The issue that’s coupled with the loners perspective on love is ironically exactly the same as the former. It revokes the person’s ability to choose; limiting society to two ideologically constrictive ideas. The film humors both viewpoints equally, however, encouraging a debate between both sentiments, and tailoring the film’s events and ending to how each different audience member may perceive it as such. The director stays neutral opting to emphasize the fact that we as the audience do have a choice. We can dictate if the main characters end up living a happy ending or a sad one. We can choose to live our own lives depending on how we perceive love.
It’s a choice I don’t think we should waste.