Something’s happening to Dan. It’s confusing. It’s awkward. It’s family.
Dan Burns (Steve Carell) is a family advice columnist who also happens to be a single dad of three gorgeous girls of differing ages. Unfortunately his wife passed away a couple of years ago and since then Dan has basically lost himself in trying to be the best dad that he can possibly be. Unfortunately, that also means that he has long since taken himself out of the game as well, meaning that he now literally lives for his daughters and for the family, which is not exactly the most healthy of positions to be in.
Of course, having an overbearing father when you are a teenage girl is more than a little annoying, and more often than not, all Dan succeeds in doing is making everyone mad at him, especially when it comes to the question of boyfriends and learning to drive. Case in point: it is the big family get-together vacation this week at his dad’s house in the middle of nowhere, and once again this is not going to be one big happy family adventure.
However, something very exciting happens to Dan on the very first day of the trip. He meets a woman. A funny, intriguing and remarkable woman that Dan instantly opens up to and perhaps even falls in love with on the spot, much to the joy and amazement of the rest of his family.
Just too bad that it turns out that this new woman of his dreams happens to currently be dating his very own brother… and staying in the same house as them for the week!
Dan in Real Life is a 2007 American comedy-drama film directed by Peter Hedges, best known for being the screenwriter behind Hugh Grant’s successful “About a Boy”, and stars Steve Carell and Juliette Binoche in the lead roles.
Dan in Real Life is another one of those understated, slice-of-life movies that we are now becoming more and more accustomed to seeing on the big screen, much in the vein of the big hit “Little Miss Sunshine” (also starring Steve Carell incidentally), and happens to be a remarkably touching and gripping story of a man who has denied himself love for so long, finally finding someone with whom he connects, only to once more be denied by circumstances beyond his control.
As much as the movie is funny and will keep you giggling to yourself at the situations Dan keeps finding himself in, its real strength lies in the intense drama and heart wrenching moments throughout and if you can appreciate this kind of movie, then you will definitely be moved by it. It is heart sore and joyous, with a lot of laughs and drama thrown into the mix, all of which makes for a compelling and enjoyable, if a little understated, watch.
The whole cast does a fabulous job in bringing this movie to life, (ignoring the ham fisted acting of the three daughters perhaps), but without a doubt it is the main star of the show that shines the brightest. We’ve seen Steve Carell appearing in this type of slice-of-life, dramedy movie before and truly it is a genre in which he excels. His look, mannerisms and homeliness does a lot for this movie and he easily slides into a character that you can’t help but emphasize with. Another one to mention is Juliette Binoche (the French actress perhaps best known to us for her role in “Chocolat”) who plays the love interest caught between the two men and has that intriguing and worldly allure to her that makes her an interesting character to watch.
And of course, this type of movie relies heavily on the choice of music and musical arrangements to strengthen the impact of its more moving bits and to that end, Norwegian singer-songwriter Sondre Lerche does a fantastic job, having composed the majority of the music throughout the movie, even making a cameo appearance right at the end!
Dan in Real Life is one of those movies that you won’t hear much fanfare about, but it is most certainly an exercise in a movie being made exactly right. This is a beautiful, tragic and funny story of a father finding love again and the emotional purity of the movie is sure to leave you moved once this mix of joy and sadness finally rolls its last credits.
So in summary, a great romantic movie that your woman is sure to enjoy (and will earn you plenty of brownie points if you make a point of watching it with her!)