(500) Days of Summer is, as the prologue says, a story about a boy and a girl, but it is decidedly not a love story. Starring Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the movie is a non-linear story of Summer and Tom’s relationship, from the way it ends to the way it began.
(500) Days of Summer is Tom’s story, but his story revolves completely around Summer. Everything about this movie was designed to revolve around Summer, including the costume design.
No one but Summer was allowed to wear blue
Hope Hanarfin was the costume designer for (500) Days of Summer. According to BuzzFeed, the director, Marc Webb, told her that the only rule that he had for her was that only Summer would be allowed to wear blue. Hanarfin took that rule and ran with it. Summer wore something blue throughout the movie. It was her color.
Summer was Tom’s ideal girl, and he was madly in love with her. She, however, kept him at arm’s length. Her wearing blue might be a reflection of Tom’s sadness, says Bustle. Because the movie is about Summer from Tom’s perspective, that is entirely possible.
There was only one scene where anyone else was allowed to wear blue, and it was only Tom. When he and Summer finally get together, he also wears blue. Hanarfin says in an interview with Elle that the iconic Hall & Oates dance scene is the only time when Tom also wore blue, and it was to show that his entire world was only about Summer.
(500) Days of Summer is not a sweet love story
(500) Days of Summer tells the story of Summer and Tom, but exclusively from Tom’s point of view. Refinery29 calls the movie a “love story for cynics,” and it seemed like a response to the many romantic comedies that graced the big screen in the 2000s. People loved it, and it still has an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The story is told in a non-linear fashion. It didn’t just start at the end and move backward, though. The story flitted back and forth as it told how Summer and Tom met, fell in love, and broke up. Some fans sympathize with Tom, as he falls in love with the girl of his dreams and she moves on away from him, but that might be a misinterpretation of the movie’s story.
(500) Days of Summer is told from Tom’s point of view, and Summer is his dream girl. Tom is an unreliable narrator, who ascribes traits to Summer that may not even exist. She is quirky, beautiful, and kind, but she has no agency. The story is about Tom trying to find self-fulfillment through Summer, his perfect girl.
Summer Finn is a trope
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope certainly didn’t start with Summer Finn in (500) Days of Summer, but it is one of the first. Zooey Deschanel played the quirky weird girl perfectly.
The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a quirky, interesting, enigmatic woman that is every man’s dream, and her openness to the world and her lack of inhibition is meant to teach the other half of the relationship. She shows him how to have fun and quit worrying. The self-fulfillment that comes with it usually comes with a long-lasting relationship with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
She has very little agency of her own, though, and is very much subject to the male gaze in storytelling. Natalie Portman played a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in the movie Garden State, but Kirsten Dunst was the first time a character was labeled one, in Elizabethtown.
Zooey Deschanel went on to be typecast as versions of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, especially in her starring role in the series New Girl.