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Film Review: Dan in Real Life

Mark Tregoweth
Mark Tregoweth

A solo dad with a knack for dispensing advice and helping other people with their problems struggles with his own life in the film, Dan in Real Life.

A refreshing comedy punctuated with dramatic moments, Dan in Real Life avoids romantic clichés in favour of a solid story rich with everyday characters.

Widower, father of three and newspaper columnist, Dan Burns’ (Steve Carell) life is a blur of teenage tantrums, daily deadlines and an unspoken void.

While his career is on the verge of something big with the potential for syndication of his column, his role as father of three (two teens and one tween) suffers setbacks when he refuses to let one daughter drive and another fall in love.

A holiday with his parents, siblings and their families does little to unite Dan’s family spirits.

Sensing he and his kids need a little space, his mother (Diane Weist) sends him off to buy the Sunday papers from a nearby town. In a bookstore he is mistaken for a shop assistant by a mysterious woman, Marie (Juliette Binoche), who is searching for a book on love. Chemistry ignites the two strangers engage in conversation and create a connection.

She admits to being in a relationship, they agree to talk again and then part company. When Dan returns to his family his brother Mitch surprises him by introducing him to his girlfriend Marie.

Awkward incidents, hilarious out bursts and heartfelt moments follow as the couple fight their attraction, disguise their feelings and struggle to find a way forward.

Steve Carrell restrains his talent for physical comedy in favour of a subtle performance as a frustrated and flawed father.  As the objection of his affection, Juliette Binoche exudes charm and ignites chemistry with Carell in her role as Marie.

Cleverly chaotic at times and quietly captivating throughout, Dan in Real Life is fresh, funny and deserves to be big.

Rating ****
Duration: 1 hour 50 minutes

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