A Deeper Dive into Tom from (500) Days of Summer

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Photo from 20th Century Fox

(500) Days of Summer surrounds Tom as he fantasizes about a girl named Summer and starts a romance with her. But things end up going wrong, and Tom is heartbroken, angry, convinced he will never move on from Summer and that she was the one for him.

(500) Days of Summer is a film that I find super re-watchable. It’s refreshing to see a romance movie from the guy’s point of view, knowing that they too obsess over girls, get hurt, and are able to be vulnerable and heartbroken. But here’s the thing about Tom – he is actually an asshole, he just doesn’t realize it and it was something that I didn’t totally realize until my recent re-watch of the film.

Tom is a total romantic, he loves love, and wants more than anything to be in love. So when a new, pretty girl named Summer Finn walks into his life, he is instantly attracted to her and begins to obsess over her. But his obsession becomes unhealthy because he starts to idolize her, convincing himself that everything that she does is perfect – that Summer is the perfect girl.

Summer is the opposite of Tom. She doesn’t believe in love and is a cynic. But as her friendship with Tom starts to develop and she learns that Tom likes her. She decides to give him a chance, just not the chance of being her boyfriend. She tells Tom right away that she isn’t looking for anything serious. Tom isn’t pleased by this but accepts that this is the only way that he and Summer can be together. The thing is though that Tom still acts like the boyfriend in this relationship and is upset when Summer doesn’t act like a  girlfriend should. But since he has convinced himself that Summer is “the one,” he will do anything to be her, chasing her to no end. In the film, it may appear endearing and cute, but no doubt in real life this would be a red flag.

In the film, Tom only focuses on the good of their relationship and once they are broken up, does nothing but mope and sulk about her. In fact, he goes on a blind date with another woman in the film but can’t do anything but complain about how betrayed he is about Summer. The girl asks him, “She never cheated on you?” “No, never” “She ever take advantage of you in any way?” “No” “And she told you upfront that she didn’t want a boyfriend?” “Yeah…”. It’s right here that you really see Tom’s twisted way of thinking.

With the whole film being from Tom’s point of view, it’s easy for the viewer to sympathize and relate to him because most of us have been heartbroken before. And it’s easy to say, “oh Summer is a bitch for leading him on,” but we never get to see any deeper insights into Summer’s mindset or feelings. Though she is the center of the film, the audience never gets to see who Summer truly is. Joseph Gordon-Levitt said himself that Tom was selfish. And it’s obvious that Tom was more in love with the idea of Summer and what Summer represents than the person who is Summer.

So if you haven’t seen (500) Days of Summer, I highly recommend it. And if you have seen it, I suggest seeing it again. I really love how the story jumps around different points of Tom and Summer’s relationship, the music, sequences like Expectation vs. Reality, and a scene that imitates a French New Wave film – it’s a pretty great film for a film fan and one of my favorite movies.

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