There are movies we relate to. There are movies that stay with us for a long time after we are done watching them. And then there are movies that hit us like someone punched us in the gut, and didn't stop.
Of the many "break up movies" that we have watched, 500 Days of Summer seems to be many people's love. Funny, because as the narrator makes clear right in the beginning, the movie is NOT a love story. But years from when it was released, there is no ounce of doubt as to why the movie is as loved as it was once upon a time.
Eight years, countless reruns, and numerous self-loathing trips later, I can safely say that people still relate to the movie as if they are watching it for the first time.
Pain, my friend, is a consistent emotion after all.
The movie is a bang on portrayal of the present day dating scene of millennials.
It made sense then, it makes sense now. You know what I am talking about. The whole cycle of finding someone, dating, the rush, liking but not loving, always almost in a relationship but never quite committed, the friend-zoning, moving on. Rings a bell, doesn't it?
For many of us, it is the same story: boy meets girl, girl meets girl, boy meets boy. But it is never a love story.
For Tom, Summer was the one. Stuck in a dead-end job, renouncing what he was truly passionate about, Summer becomes a fixation for him - a feeling that he believed was love. As many of us do.
For Summer, Tom was the guy who presented an argument - that love exists. For someone who was not into relationships and was looking for something casual, she went along with the whole dating-but-not-labeling scene that seems to be a fad these days.
For Tom, Summer became someone who made life worth living.
For Summer, he was just a guy she was casually seeing, but not really investing herself in.
Doesn't that sound like two cases of classic species we see around us? A guy who needs a reason to feel the worth of his life that is outside of himself? A guy who is slumming it in a job he doesn't like, only because he is scared to take a chance, and is now looking for a romantic relationship to give meaning to his life?
Then there is Summer. While seen by many as a free and independent girl who just wanted a casual something, it is inescapable to know that she was also selfish.
Don't get me wrong, any person who has watched the movie will know that she was very clear in her head about what she wanted, she is what we all call "sorted". And while it is a quality many are drawn towards, it is her lack of sensibility and the subtle misleading of Tom that gets her in the bad books of many people.
As Tom says near the end of the movie, she just "does what she wants".
In a world where many are quick to fall in love without taking the time to understand what they are getting into, in a world where many are enamored by the chase and just the idea of a person, and in a world where a romantic relationship is becoming more a-fun-thing-we-do rather than a meaningful bond two people share - love IS actually becoming a fantasy.
Maybe that is also why we are so scared of labeling, under the garb of it being a "modern relationship".
I wonder if it is because we are always so tempted and drawn to a little rush, excitement, and the idea of love rather than love itself.
We are just looking to "color our lives with the chaos of trouble".
At other times, it is simply tragic when two people who share something that could have been something, something that was more than talk about the weather and food, something that actually came along with real conversation - don't get to ever find out what could have been. Because let's face it, between managing our jobs, finding time for ourselves, going to the gym, meeting friends, who has the mental bandwidth to invest in a relationship, right?
Then there is the epic art of friend-zoning. The consolation prize. The selfish hope.
"You are a great guy, I really don't want to lose you as a friend."
We've all been a victim, and we've all been the one to do it. Those five words are more painful than all the cringe-pop floating around: "We Can Still Be Friends."
Tom is our wounded warrior, the tragic hero who fell for a girl who clearly wanted very different things. And even when he knew that he wasn't smart enough to back out, he convinced himself that he can handle the situation. He found hope where he could and clung to it, and Summer was more than happy to keep that going for him.
Why do we keep doing that? Why do we not find enough strength to walk away from something that is not what we want for ourselves? Why is it easier to stand up for others than to stand up for yourself? Why are we so scared to ask the question, to hear the answer we don't want to hear?
"Why rock the boat?", Tom asked his friends when they confronted him about the situation.
"If we are happy, who cares?", Summer responds when Tom actually gathers the courage to ask where it is they were heading.
The combination of desire for elusive happiness and the fear of being lonely has many biting the dust.
There is so much truth to this movie that it makes for a more realistic, and hard-hitting watch than all the romantic comedies that we feast on the side of dark chocolate ice cream. It's because we may not have been an Andie, an Amanda, or a Kate...but we have all been a Summer, and we have all been a Tom.
Through all the tales we cry over or feel happy about, through all the romantic relationships that worked out or didn't, the expectations unmatched, the bubble burst, being right or wrong about many we thought of giving our hearts to - knowing that that is how life works is what slowly gets us through.
It may not be fate, maybe nothing is meant to be, but it will work out anyway.
It is knowing that you are pretty right about what your idea of love is, but maybe not right enough about the who.
And it is knowing that if we actually get past the summer, maybe we will find that autumn makes for a better season to fall in love after all.