Joseph Gordon-Levitt first made a name for himself on the hit TV series 3rd Rock from the Sun when he was just 15-years-old. Since the series ended in 2001, he's gotten rave reviews for roles in various independent films. This is Gordon-Levitt's first leading role in a mainstream movie, and, if this is any indication, he's going to have a long and prosperous career.
Gordon-Levitt stars as Tom Hansen, a designer and writer who works for a Los Angeles, greeting card company but who really wants to be an architect. Tom is a guy who clearly believes in love, the idea of true love, fate, and soulmates. He thinks that eventually he'll meet the one, that one girl with whom he'll be monogamous forever.
Zooey Deschanel (Elf and Bridge to Terabithia) plays Summer Finn, a secretary who arrives as the new and pretty co-worker at the greeting card company. Tom takes one look at the petite, dark-haired, big-eyed beauty and falls instantly head-over-heels, and immediately thinks she's the one. Sadly, she doesn't share those feelings.
She's the one who makes the first move when it becomes obvious that he likes her but is too hesitant to approach. Yet, Summer wants to keep things casual, nothing serious. Summer doesn't even want to be labeled as his "girlfriend."
They do date each other and have fun doing a bunch of cute, fun things together. The film jumps back and forth, making note of the number of days that have passed since they first met. Not every day is shown but glimpses of the most memorable days are.
There are certainly ups and downs, as would be assumed. Tom says he needs consistency. Summer says she can't give him that. They like one another, but there's never really a solid foundation. Everything is so breezy, making it feel fresh but never firm.
Director Marc Webb, going off an amazing script from Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, flourishes other film genres to accentuate different emotional points. From upbeat musical to suffering, French black-and-white to even stark, testimonial-based documentary, Webb incorporates several styles to chart how Tom feels.
While Tom thinks Summer's his soul mate, he realizes that he can't hold onto her. She might as well be the wind. There's a sequence toward the end where Tom replays moments out of their romance where he realizes this. It's set to Simon and Garfunkel's "Bookends."
It's then that the audience realizes that this couple might not last. They'll have their happily ever after, just not the way in most romantic comedies. The point is not to discount soulmates. They're just not always who you expect, and if a relationship doesn't go the distance, it only prepares you for what's next or inspire you to do better.
Deschanel is delightful as always. She recorded a music album last year but also contributes a song to this soundtrack, a soundtrack already filled with great sounds. Deschanel has a very unique voice as does Richard McGonagle who narrates the tale.
Five Stars out of Five
Rated PG-13 for sexual material and language
Running Time: 1 hr. and 35 mins.