At first this film seemed like it was going to focus on the depression Dan, played by an always fantastic Steve Carell, faces raising three daughters as a single parent due to his wife dying four years prior to the film. Then however, when Dan meets Marie, played by Juliette Binoche, for the 10 minutes they are alone on screen, the film turns in to a romantic comedy which is only strengthened by the excellent chemistry between Carell and Binoche. Their chemistry is palpable and you feel as if they are genuinely meant for each other.
Of course if it were that simple then it would not make for the most interesting film, so when Dan finds out that Marie is dating his brother they both agree to back off of each other. However, their hearts do not necessarily agree with their minds and the keep running off privately to talk and discuss until it starts to become obvious that there is something there, at least on one side.
Here’s my biggest problem with ‘Dan in Real Life’; it is far too formulaic for its own damn good. This film had certain flairs which brought it above generic romantic comedy standards, like the three daughters played fantastically by Alison Pill, Brittany Robertson and Marlene Lawston definitely gave the film some gravitas.
It does say something about the film that despite the fact it is predictably linear, hitting every notch on a standard romantic comedy checklist, it still kept me gripped and brought tears to my eyes, twice, but I am not sure whether to lay that with the actors, director or writers, maybe a combination of all three.
While I am speaking of the directing it is absolutely generic romantic comedy, not in flickers or splashes but in heaps and dollops, with the occasional hint at greatness.
I expected much more out of ‘Dan in Real Life’ but the film, despite itself, still kept me hooked and made me care about some, if not all of the characters and kept me thoroughly entertained throughout.