Dan (Steve Carell) is a well-respected newspaper advice columnist based outside of NYC. He is also a lonely single dad, raising three precocious daughters. His wife, we find, had passed away from cancer about four years earlier. He’s about to take a road trip to Rhode Island for the yearly family reunion.
Once there, his obnoxious (but well-meaning) family make him feel even more out of place than he usually does. While at a small bookstore in town, he happens to meet a beautiful French woman named Marie (Juliette Binoche). As it turns out, Marie is the new girlfriend of his younger, more charismatic brother (Dane Cook), who actually planned on inviting her to the family reunion. Dan and Marie have a casual date while in town, and seem to be hitting it off, and then, when Dan arrives back at the house, he is re-introduced to Marie by his brother, and both Dan and Marie pretend that they’ve never met, or just had a date.
What follows is for you to see… I won’t spoil anything. But man, this is one of the most awkward movies I’ve seen in recent years… it’s very funny, heartfelt, and bittersweet in the best of ways. Fantastic supporting cast, as well as the main actors Carell, Cook, and Binoche. Oh, and how could I forget the perfect score and sountrack by Norwegian indie/folk artist Sondre Lerche? The movie’s already perfect, but Lerche’s score and songs are the icing on the cake.
As everything I add to this blog, I highly recommend you check it out, if you haven’t yet. Adorably awkward and absolutely perfect. Co-written and directed by Peter Hedges (who also wrote/directed What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and Pieces of April).
side note: I actually sent Peter Hedges an email a few years ago, praising him for bringing Dan In Real Life into my life. Never heard back, but it was a good email. I always feel good sending emails like that to people who make wonderful pieces of art that touch every part of my heart and soul. This is that kind of movie.