Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 2007. Touchstone Pictures, Focus Features, Jon Shestack Productions, Dan In Real Life Productions. Screenplay by Pierce Gardner, Peter Hedges. Cinematography by Lawrence Sher. Produced by Brad Epstein, Jon Shestack. Music by Sondre Lerche. Production Design by Sarah Knowles. Costume Design by Alix Friedberg. Film Editing by Sarah Flack.
Steve Carell‘s life is in upheaval: his three girls are growing up and rebelling against his desire to keep them young and free from harm, while his love life is non-existent since his wife died some years earlier. His career looks to be going upwards, however, as the family-advice column he writes for a newspaper is up for the position of national syndication. All these things and more get dealt with at a family retreat where he and his siblings and parents gather at their cabin in the woods, though this year there’s a special addition: while shopping at town near his cabin, Carell meets a beautiful stranger (Juliette Binoche) and falls instantly in love with her. Tough break when he rejoins his family and discovers that she’s actually his brother’s new girlfriend. This family comedy-drama from Peter Hedges, director of Pieces of April, falters thanks to some highly contrived situations and a few moments of overripe dialogue. It wins at other times, particularly when it emphasizes Binoche’s rich performance and the wonderful chemistry she has with Carell. Its heart is always in the right place, making its downsides easier to bear (particularly in casting the utterly uncharismatic Dane Cook as the brother), plus it contains the pleasure of the wonderful Dianne Wiest as clan mother.