There are lots of little disappointments peppering the trailer for Dan in Real Life: there’s the realization that the once interesting writer Peter Hedges is now a third-rate James L. Brooks; there’s the sight of Dianne Wiest, which reminds you that Dianne Wiest doesn’t work nearly enough anymore (I don’t watch Law & Order; that’s Dev’s thing); and there’s Steve Carell further squandering his affable comedic persona two years after breaking through so triumphantly with The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
But these are disappointments you can live with. It’s the whole Juliette Binoche playing Dane Cook’s girlfriend that’ll make you warm the bath and hone the blade.
If you think I’m overreacting, then you’re no fan of cinema. I’ve been madly in love with Binoche since she made her jarring, pool-diving entrance in Philip Kaufman’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. I didn’t need Daniel Day-Lewis’s leer to tell me that this brunette in a black swimsuit was going to be worth pursuing when she emerged to towel off at the other end; I could tell from her elegant underwater glide that this was a woman I’d be loving from afar for the rest of my life.
And so I have. From Kieslowski’s Blue to Haneke’s Code Unknown to Carax’s brilliant and too-little-seen The Lovers on the Bridge, I have adored Juliette Binoche. Even when she’s appeared in prestige misfires like Chocolat or Bee Season, I have found things to admire in her work. She is immune from my hate. If I found out Juliette Binoche firebombed an orphanage, I’d figure she had her reasons.
But firebombing an orphanage is nothing compared to this. What kind of monster casts Binoche to play Dane Cook’s girlfriend? That’s like ripping "Starry Night" off the wall at MOMA, slashing it to pieces, and replacing it with the DVD cover art for Encino Man. This is egregious. And this will not go unpunished. If I were you, Peter Hedges, I’d park your Prius inside from now on because I will fuck up your gas mileage. That’s right. We’ll see how ready you are to cast Dane Cook opposite, say, Irene Jacob when you’re getting twenty-three miles per gallon.