Dan in Real Life revolves around the life of a middle-aged widower, Dan, who dispenses parenting advice to his loyal readers in his column Dan in Real Life. He is so good at his job, he’s about to be offered a position as a syndicated columnist. Unfortunately, (surprise, surprise), Dan, in real life, can’t get over the death of his wife and cannot see eye-to-eye with his teenaged daughers. During an annual family gathering, Dan bumps into a kooky and attractive Marie, falls in love, only to realise that (surprise, surprise) Marie is his brother’s new girlfriend. Dan basically spent the rest of the movie trying to suppress his feelings for Marie, and (surprise, surprise), no prizes for guessing who gets the girl.
Surprisingly, i enjoyed the movie. It was an amusing and rather heartwarming film that developed at a good pace. Steve Carell was perfectly convincing as the neurotic Dan. He made Dan, with all his flaws and insecurities, realistic and likeable. Juliette Binoche shone as Marie. The rest of the supporting cast (his daughters, his entire boisterous family clan) was excellent. The cast had chemistry. Entertaining plot. Check. Good jokes. Check. Aww moments. Check. Good cast who looked as if they genuinely liked one another. Check. And what made Dan in Real Life stood out from other equally adequate romantic comedies? That Dan, who appeared so put-together and intelligent in his columns, was actually no different from any Tom, Dick or Harry struggling for answers to life’s questions. That Dan, who was supposedly on moral high ground, was actually not any better than his daughters at controlling his feverish desires.
Some parts were unbelievable. Dan, still grieving over his wife who passed away four years ago, decided in the span of an afternoon, that he was in love with Marie. It was also rather disconcerting to see how Dan could, without much struggle really, flirt with Marie knowing full well that his brother was also in love with her. It was rather hard to accept the “true love” theme when every character seemed to treat love a little too lightly. Still, on the whole, Dan in Real Life makes for a good, relaxing date movie.
Michael Clayton on the other hand, is something you don’t want to watch after midnight. Unlike Dan, Michael Clayton is a top notch law professional, a clear-headed “janitor” paid insane amounts of money to clear the mess made by the rich and famous. Unlike Dan, Clayton does not have time to fall in love, not when he has to spout jargon every 5 seconds, save his good friend, preserve his own life and rid the world of the evil U-North, all in two hours.
15 minutes into the film, my brain (already made fluffy by an overdose of Dan and Marie) registered…nothing much. I was frowning, leaning forward, trying my darndest to understand what was going on. But my stupid brain only told me “Damn. I should know better than to watch a film starring Oscar powerhouses about cheem conspiracies”. 35 minutes into the film, everything fell into place. It was like an Eureka moment and from then, it was pure heart-stopping action and non-stop brain work. Michael Clayton is an intelligent, spell-binding political thriller- you will be more or less glued to the movie screen. George Clooney was awesome. His Clayton was so tortured and weary that you forget Clooney’s A-list status. Tom Wilkinson gave a powerful performance as well. Tilda Swinton totally owned the role of Karen, the nervous wreck who will stoop to the lowest depth to save her own skin. After her turn as the White Witch in Narnia, and now in Michael Clayton, I am totally convinced that Swinton is the ultimate Cruella de Vill. My only grouse: the ending of Michael Clayton (I shan’t say too much) was a tad formulaic and arrived way too quickly.