Willa, maybe I’m just blinded by my increasingly debilitating crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt (now that I’ve started following his smart and witty Twitter feed, it’s reached the point where I’m considering trying to wangle an introduction), but I honestly didn’t experience (500) Days of Summer as the misogynistic bait-and-switch you describe . To me, the movie’s portrait of romantic love as a one-way delusion was purposely and wistfully tongue-in-cheek; the whole film is a “critique of the fact that Tom is totally oblivious to Summer’s inner life” (even if, thanks largely to JGL’s winning performance, that critique is an affectionate one). And unlike the vaguely man-shaped cutouts in He’s Just Not That Into You , Tom pays a heavy price for his inability to apprehend Summer’s otherness: He loses her, painfully, to someone else.
Though the movie is sympathetic to its starry-eyed hero, the audience is also meant to cringe as Tom repeatedly misinterprets Summer’s explicit cues that, shared iPod playlists or no, she’s just not that into him. Deschanel’s character, Summer, may have been been underwritten at times (I would have loved, for example, a scene where she and Tom hashed out their difference of opinion on The Graduate ), but I certainly never saw her as cruel or stupid. Her inscrutability is the inscrutability of the beloved to the lover-a timeworn trope, maybe, but one that cuts both ways, gender-wise.
Photograph of Joseph Gordon-Levitt by Eric Jamison/Getty Images for CineVegas.