Tue February 12, 2008
It just seems right.
By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
Will Hayes: I had two serious girlfriends... and then some other smattering of other women.
Maya Hayes: What's the boy word for 'slut'?
Will Hayes: They still haven't come up with one yet.
From Definitely, Maybe
Definitely, Maybe won't give you the laughs or, for that matter, the laser look at pre-marital sex of last year's top romcom, Knocked Up, nor will it enter the lexicon of great films such as When Harry Met Sally and any great Woody Allen piece, but it will make you nod in agreement more than all of them together when you identify with youthful Will Hays's (Ryan Reynolds) three sincere romances, a divorce, and his explanation of it all to his eight-year-old daughter, Maya (Abigail Breslin). It all rings true: the exaltations, mistakes, hurts, and persistence in the face of failure. Director Adam Brooks has achieved an honest, melancholic tone as dad tells the stories of his loves to his daughter, especially the tale about her mother.
Will works for the 1992 Clinton campaign, and the Clinton sexual peccadilloes play as background to the complex parsing of feelings and commitments Will faces as he moves from the relative calm of Madison, Wisconsin, to the uncertainties of New York City. Even the opening sequence about the mayhem caused by sex education in a NYC grammar school is a leitmotif as adults and kids face the strange ramifications of love.
It's not even that Brooks' screenplay scintillates; it just seems right in its wonder at love and its lack of pretension when it comes to deconstructing it. Maya says he is telling a "love-story-mystery," and Will is counseling her that it is all complicated, reminding me of Steve McQueen in The Reivers telling his young companion as they look in a brothel at a painting of a nude lady, "It's a mystery."
Although this film is much more romance than comedy, you may chuckle at how true are all the shenanigans we go through for love.
"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh." W.H. Auden
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com