The romantic comedy is moribund. The first traces of its demise can be dated to the turn of the millenium, when Hugh Grant decided that he didn’t really want to be the floppy-haired object of middle-class women’s affections. Since then, the genre has been a reliable producer of tired and cynical “battles of the sexes” or grown-up fables in which a self-centred man-child discovers unlikely love via a woman who is palpably too good for him. Earlier this year The Ugly Truth scraped the bottom of that barrel by trying to merge both forms and has yet to be surpassed as worst film of the year.
So, if ever there was a genre ripe for reboot (like Star Trek earlier this year) it is the romantic comedy and, because nature abhors a vacuum, we now get one. It’s called (500) Days of Summer and it may well be one of the best films of the year.
The time is present day Los Angeles (a street-level Los Angeles not a million miles away from the charming In Search of a Midnight Kiss earlier this year) and our hero (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young visionary who no longer believes in himself: an architect stuck in a dead-end job writing greeting cards. He meets his boss’s beautiful new assistant Summer (Zooey Deschanel) and they bond over The Smiths. He is besotted. She, not so much, but they start an affair.