The film does a great job of getting the viewer caught up in the quirky romance between Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Tom and Zooey Deschanel's Summer mostly due to the wonderful performances from the two actors and the great writing by Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber. There is a real warmth to their performances, and the romance feels natural and real, even despite the impending sense of doom that comes from the future post-relationship days that are littered throughout. The time jumping (complete with telling background animations) makes the viewer acutely aware of the truth of the opening narration, with the future days showing the despondent Tom trying to cope after their romance breaks down. Due to the chemistry between Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel it was necessary for her to marry another man in order to begin the realisation that the relationship truly is over, to both Tom and the viewer who shares in his loss.
The examination of moments from different perspectives showed off how well crafted the scenes were, with the moments being subtle in one viewpoint but so clear from another mindset, and because of this so poignant to real life. People see what they want to see, and quite often that might not be the reality. Tom's incredibly grounded younger sister Rachel (Chloë Grace Moretz) provides this clarity for Tom, and in some ways the audience, and is a generally entertaining character in her limited appearances. Moretz isn't the only supporting character worth mentioning with Tom's co-worker McKenzie and their boss Vance, played by Geoffrey Arend and Clark Gregg respectively, both providing laughs and valuable input to Tom's life.
Summer's final scene, on day 488, is a nice one that finally allows Tom to let her go. Leading to day 500 where he meets a girl who he immediately clicks with and his journey begins all over again. Will she be the one for Tom? Who knows, the film teaches about living in the moment and that it is merely coincidence, not fate, that dictates the direction of lives. The moment that she reveals her name to be Autumn is a little cheesy, but it is effective at driving home the point of the film and Tom's breaking of the fourth wall to acknowledge as such could have easily come across as too much but it is played just right as he reacts along with the audience instead of trying to lead them.
One of the strongest and most inventive scenes pitted "Expectation" against "Reality" as Tom went to Summer's roof party that actually turned out to be her engagement party. Despite being one of the less subtle ways that the film presented Tom's dashed hopes, it perfectly displayed the contrast in the way that his feeling of love had influenced his mindset on the situation and made the engagement news have the biggest possible crushing impact it could have.
The decision for Tom to work in a greetings card factory was an inspired way to represent the characters emotions through his job, and his dream career of architecture was an effective allegory for the films analysis of relationships.
Despite the potentially dark subject matter the film looks at it from a generally balanced outlook, showing both the highs and lows of relationships with the ultimate message one of hope. The film also has plenty of funny moments that usually feel like laughing with the characters, not at them. The upbeat feeling is also kept alive by the soundtrack that settles along so well with the quirky relationship presented.
(500) Days of Summer may not be a love story, but in its honest approach to relationships it presents a much more accurate love story than most films out there. The subtlety that Marc Webb presents the affection and the disconnection of the characters with is something that sets this film apart from not just others in its genre, but any film containing a romance of any kind.