There was a time -- early in this romcom -- when I thought it might be a latter-day When Harry Met Sally ... It is not as funny or as endearing. But, it is a worthy effort, nonetheless.
A narrator tells us upfront this will not be a love story. It certainly isn't a typical one. And, the fact that Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) bond over their mutual love of The Smiths may hint that things aren't going to end happily for one or the other. After all, the band that gave the world "Girlfriend in a Coma" and "Cemetery Gates" isn't a conventional choice for a romcom soundtrack. (This movie's soundtrack is one of things it has going for it.)
Tom wanted to be an architect but now pens trite lines for a greeting card company. Summer, a new assistant at the company, seems utterly immune to the effect she has on men, which, of course, only adds to her appeal. Tom has it bad from the first time he sees her.
In a refreshing switch, Tom -- though every bit as adorable as Summer -- is the insecure, neurotic, obsessive suitor. He's convinced that she's the one, although she is equally convinced that true love is a myth. She tells him she doesn't want anything serious, even as she seems to be falling for him.
Although Summer is, according to the narrator, every man's dream, the movie belongs to Tom. So do our hearts. Gordon-Levitt imbues with him pain, angst, heart, vulnerability and charm to spare. To my mind, he's the irresistible one.
This movie cleverly moves back and forth in time to show us the wonder and wretchedness of falling in love, along with the attempts to sustain the magic of those first heady days. It may not be one for my own personal video library, but it's a well-done twist on a nearly worn-out genre. See it.