Dan in Real Life(2008)
BY Andrew Hedley Flicks Writer
Widower Dan (Steve Carell) takes his three daughters on 'vacation' with his extended family. Here he falls rapidly in love with Marie (Juliette Binoche), only to later find out she is his brother’s new girlfriend. Darn it!
This is a large family that likes to play charades and put on variety shows for each other whenever they can. How sweet, we say through gritted teeth. But a strength of the film is how these actors relate to each other as if they were a real family. Less appealing is the icky sentiment drizzled over the film like fermented caramel. If happy endings and 'cute' families aren't your thing, then you'd be advised to steer clear.
He's a very shouty man, our Steven. That heavy brow and piercing stare have been put to good use in characters that like to 'lose it' a lot. There’s a constant defensive sarcasm that seeps out of his flesh even when he's standing still. There’s never really anything endearing, exciting or fresh about his comic performances, and his shtick can grow stale very quickly.
Bearing that in mind, Carell can do decent work when he puts on his 'serious' hat. And his role as a single parent in Dan In Real Life is his best to date. There's something about Dan’s struggle to bring up three daughters after the death of his wife that is brought to life perfectly in Carell’s hands. He plays the character almost with a permanent 'sigh', without ever looking pathetic, and it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part.
Dan’s love interest, Marie (Binoche), doesn’t fare so well. She feels out of place and irritatingly smug, possibly due to her odd French/American accent. It's here that the film struggles to convince. Not once did I buy that Marie was falling in love with the downtrodden Dan. Not once.
So despite the naturalistic acting from the extended family, the quaint holiday house location, and the inoffensive humour, Dan In Real Life is let down by a central conceit that is not believable. What does the glamorous Marie see in the rather desperate (albeit sweet) Dan? I have no idea, and would welcome suggestions.
The Peoples' Reviews
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Dan in Real Life
There are quite a lot of awkward yet funny moments Carrell excels in but it’s not enough as the... More final print leaves us cheated with the all too readable subplots as the normal clichés present themselves upon us one by one.Hide
BY Ken-Burns superstar
just very clear storytelling. This film is what being at the movies is all about. Strong emotional ties to characters as a viewer. Some aspects of the story relate to your own life and some others to other people. Steve Carel is just aguy getting on with his life as a widower and has a thing for Juliette Binoche who is not so French in this one. I'd easily see this again