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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dan in Real Life

****½ Dan in Real Life. Drama.

Directed by: Peter Hedges.

Starring: Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Dianne Wiest, John Mahoney

We saw this at the Hercules.

Dan Burns (Steve Carell) is a widower with three daughters, and during a family holiday, he meets Marie (Juliette Binoche) in a book store and is immediately smitten--the first time he's been interested in a woman since his wife died. Unfortunately, she turns out to be his brother Mitch's (Dane Cook) new girlfriend.

That's really the whole story--the romance between Dan and Marie, how they make it work out, and the family dynamics.

There aren't any pat answers, though it's obvious to the viewer that Marie is better suited to Dan than to Mitch, but it's not as cut-and-dried as that. Marie and Mitch aren't horribly wrong for each other. Likewise, when Dan realizes he's been neglecting his daughters in his preoccupation with Marie, the answer is neither that he should seek his fulfillment in fatherhood and forget about Marie, nor that he should devote himself to love and assume his daughters will come around eventually. Like real life, it's messy, and the answers lie somewhere in the middle. Also as in real life, the characters aren't perfect, though Dan's parents (Dianne Wiest and John Mahoney) come close.

Granted, the family as a whole is just a little too Norman Rockwell-ish to be believed. Among the family activities is a family talent show, for goodness sake. And yet... it's not all that unlike what we're aiming for in the next decade or so. A cabin on the lake where we can go with the kids and their eventual significant others and children. Not quite as much organized activity, but the family get-togethers, definitely.

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Haven't seen this one yet, though I adore Steve Carell. The last thing I saw at the show was 'The Golden Compass', which I loved!
I haven't seen The Golden Compass yet--it's not showing up here until the 27th, and we'll probably see it then.

Have you read the book(s)? I've bought the book, but I haven't decided yet whether to read it before or after seeing the movie.
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