“500 Days Of Summer”
 
            Actually, the 500 days mark the beginning and the end of a special relationship in the life of Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).  He meets Summer (Zooey Deschanel) at work, and he is immediately attracted to her.  However, his guy-pals assure him that she’s a cold fish, so he quickly gives up.  A chance encounter in an elevator, where she comments that she likes the song on his ipod, opens the door.  He’s smitten.  She’s not, really.  In fact, according to her, she never has been.  She says she distrusts the whole romantic notion of love, and doesn’t know that she’s ever felt it.  She’s been in relationship---three times before---and it’s been fun, but she doubts that there is “only one person” or that there is “the only one” out there.  He plays along with her cynicism because she’s so cute about it, all along hoping that she will fall in love with him, as he has with her.  He’s enamored with the way she smiles, the birthmark on her neck, her laugh, her impulsive demonstrations of affection.  He’s even amused by her strange habit of shouting out sexually-charged words in public.  We like Tom, because he seems to wander around his life in a daze, like a kindly old grandfather with early dementia.  He’s said he wants to be an arc hitect, but has somehow wound up writing greeting cards.  She pushes him to not give up on his dreams too quickly.  The first time he treats her like a “girlfriend,” she backpedals furiously---she doesn’t want to be anybody’s girlfriend, she just wants to be herself.  That streak of independence is at first puzzling to him, and then downright devastating, as he begins to realize that she doesn’t need him at all.  She easily walks in and out of his life, as if it really doesn’t matter to her one way or the other.  And as viewers, we advance and retreat on the “500 days” in order to contrast the moods of the beginning, the middle, and the end of this relationship.
            No, it isn’t precisely chronological.  “500 Days” is kind of the anti-romantic comedy:  instead of starting out rocky and finishing strong, they do the opposite; perhaps like most relationships.  So, Tom wonders, is true, lasting love even possible for her?  Maybe.  Just not with him.  How depressing is that?
 
Questions For Discussion:
1)      Do you think there is only one person out there with whom you can be truly happy?  Or more than one?  Or are you wasting your time trying to find fulfillment in someone else?
2)      In pursuing your relationships, how much do you listen to the advice of your friends, and how much do you discount their perspective because it is not your own?  How about the advice of family members?
3)      Who challenges you to continue pursuing your dreams? 
 
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville, Texas