Movie review: Dan in Real Life (2007), Peter Hedges
Desparate widower finds a new love.
Dan Burns is a busy man, living with his three daughters since the dead of his wife. He once wrote a book, but now he is busy doing their dishes, washing their clothes and keeping his eye on them. The youngest, Lilly, is a cute girl in primary school, but the others, Jane and Cara, are teenagers who begin to enjoy their own lifes.
The movie starts in the morning, when the three daughters go to school. Dan tells them he picks them up after school to go the a family weekend at his parents, who live near the coast. He makes sandwiches, prepares the equipment and puts the bags in his Mercedes. In the afternoon he drives to the schools. Jane, who is seventeen years old, wants to drive his car, but Dan doesn’t like that idea. Cara is still very busy with her Mexican boyfriend Marty. She is angry about her father, when he slams the windows of the café, they are kissing in. She loves her friend and her father says that is impossible because she is too yound to know what love is.
The familymembers are all together in the house. Dans mother notices that he is tired and unhappy and needs some time for himself, so the next morning she sends him away to get the paper for his father. In a bookstore Dan helps a woman (Juliette Binoche) to find a good book. When she realizes that he is not the shopkeeper, he wants to make up for his inappropriate behaviour and invites her for a coffee in a café. Dan tells her about his life and is very disappointed that she has to leave. Finally she gives him her phonenumber, so he can call her, Marie, as her name is. Back at his parents house Dan tells his brothers that he met a great woman and they all are very happy for him.
It’s quite shocking when Dan meets Marie a little later in his parents house. She turns out to be his brother Mitchs new girlfriend. Dan en Marie keep it secret that they met. It makes up for many ackward and unexpected situations. When the parents, eager to find a wife for Dan, suggest that Ruthie, an old schoolmate needs a husband, the others tease him that she has a pigface. In reality she is a very handsome lady (Emily Blunt) so Marie becomes jealous.
The movie has a very middle class atmosphere: health is important, the conversation are superficial and filled with American values. The family is doing aerobics in the morning and a enjoys a big breakfast afterwards. Fortunately they do all kind of social games together.
It is quite unrealistic that Marie is interested in Dan when so is having an affair with his brother Mitch. The humour in this movie sometimes is funny, especially when Dan realizes that he came in the same situation as his daughter Cara. Sometimes the humour is a bit too far-fetched, for instance when Dan tries to speak to Marie in the bathroom and Jane comes in. Dan hides under the shower,when Jane wants to speak with Marie about life, while Marie is having a shower. Dan gets wet and hides his face behind a towel so not to be able to see the naked Marie in front of him. Dan gets three fines by the policeman, two for driving too fast and one for hitting the police car. This kind of humour doesnot help this rather amusing and pleasant movie to a higher standard, neither does the sentimental ending.
Hier de trailer.