19 July 2009
(500) Days of Summer
I saw (500) Days of Summer today. I'm going to try not to ruin the movie here, at least not in this post, because what I want to write about is not plot-based at all. I must say before I actually begin how incredible Miss Zooey's wardrobe is in this film, how wonderful this film was (I could see it again), and how truly clever the script is in its homages to romantic cliches, French New Wave cinema as the art form of the indie and depressed, and karaoke gloriousness.
But what I know will not be written about, and what I am writing about now since I can't sleep again, are the apartments of each character and how well they express the personalities that are developed over the 90 minutes. Rarely do we see apartments that are expressive of their "tenants" in films or on television, or even in real life. When we do walk into an apartment and feel like we've gotten a look into that person's soul that was not obvious on the surface-- I'm not talking boy band posters and sports memorabilia here-- that is an incredible gift. I remember walking into Exbf's apartment was incredible for me, because I saw this artistic, classy man who would not be readily identifiable under the rabid sports fan. His favorite color, red, was displayed as a vibrant accent, not the oversaturation frequently favored by immature males decorating a first apartment-- namely, New Guy, whose apartment was completely orange and blue and was covered in sports posters, large flags for his home sports team and the country where he'd studied abroad, and random teenage boy gimmicks like bobblehead dolls and a laundry hamper/basketball hoop. I felt like nothing personal had been revealed to me from entering that apartment, and that's when the doubts began to enter my head.
Back to the movie. Summer is basically Zooey in real life, quirky and indie and completely old-fashioned. Her apartment is covered in a twee blue floral wallpaper, decorated with branches on which were strung paper cranes, the non-wallpapered walls covered in layers of grouped paintings and old pictures in mismatched frames, floral paintings stacked in an artful arrangement in front of her exposed brick fireplace. Her bed was brass, her bedspread a textured ivory with one needlepointed throw pillow in the middle. Tom, Joseph Gordon Levitt's character, mentions that when Summer let him into her apartment, it felt like he was entering a secret world that only a select few got to see. Tom's apartment has the same effect-- his bed is set against a chalkboard-painted wall, on which was drawn a trompe l'oeil headboard and a plethora of other drawings and sayings. His books, objects, and pictures on shelves and walls are artfully arranged in geometric configurations, fitting because of his longing to be an architect. These apartments where homes to secret dreams and secret selves, which is literally what a home is supposed to be-- a place that expresses who we are and where, therefore, we can be most ourselves. I know that my apartment is, as was my apartment in New York, and when people who know me well enter my home they say, "Oh, this is so you." Those who fail to see the connection, well...they probably aren't really looking.
It's funny to think of houses having spirits, of inanimate objects having the power to conjure up the deepest recesses of a person's self. Memory plays a role too, and I know that whenever I enter Exbf's apartment, it's like a film strip has suddenly replayed of all of the good times we had together, prompted by my straightening a picture, or perching my feet on his round red coffee table, or fetching a glass from the cabinet, the twin glass to the one we broke when we accidentally tumbled off of the couch and into the aforementioned coffee table (funny story). Homes' abilities to speak about their owners is second only to bookshelves, which I guess count as part of the home. And the fact that so many homes do not speak, are completely generic and mass-produced, is a sad testament, in my opinion, to how impersonal our world has become.