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Definitely, Maybe (2008)

Film review: Definitely, Maybe (2008), directed Adam Brooks

Will Hayes (Ryan Reynolds), a father going through a divorce, has his daughter Maya (Abigail Breslin) asking him how he and Maya’s mum met, and how she came to be. Was Maya just another mistake?

So the story – using fictional names – starts to unfold … How a young man was together with a girl called Emily (Elizabeth Banks) but moved away from Wisconsin to New York, to work on Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign.

In New York, Will meets the free-spirited April (Isla Fisher), who collects second hand copies of Jane Eyre (!), because of a sob story involving her dad from when she was a teenager.

There’s also the beautiful and enigmatic Summer Hartley (Rachel Weisz), a friend of Emily’s from college. She’s dating an older man, a famous author (Kevin Kline, who I mention mostly because it’s Kevin Kline and he’s always amazing).

But which one of the women in the story is Maya’s mum? And can telling his daughter the story of how he fell in love with her mum make them rekindle the romance?

What I liked about that latter question is that it was handled in a more realistic way than you’d perhaps expect. Which was good. The ending itself should have had a life-affirming Motown song to really get the romantic comedy vibe going, but on the other hand, that’s how the film starts – with the fab Everyday People by Sly & the Family Stone.

It’s a sweet story, about love – betrayed, unrequited or true, it’s all there. Sometimes life isn’t as simple as we might be led to believe from watching films like these, but here it is, a film that puts it all on its head. By telling it as a story that a man tells his daughter, it gives a certain sense of … I don’t know what, but I like it.

As films go, Definitely, Maybe is a good watch. It’s entertaining and a trip down memory lane. There’s the candidacy to win the presidential nomination for Bill Clinton, his then candidacy and winning the presidency … Music from Nirvana and R.E.M. in the background … The Lewinsky Affair … even ol’ “Dubya” gets his five seconds of dubious fame.

I didn’t know about the Jane Eyre connection, so when I saw that, it put a smile on my face. They didn’t go into the story, just saying why it was important to April, and then, in the end, reading an obscure quote from it. Nice to see it in there, though!

It was perhaps not as laugh-out-loud funny as some other romcoms, but there’s the occasional smile, and there’s certainly romance in the air, even if it’s not easily got at. Because after all, real life isn’t a romantic comedy.

4 out of 5 dedicated second hand books.


An easily distracted Swedish introvert residing in Robin Hood Country (Nottingham, UK) with a husband and two cats. She's an eager participant in tabletop and play-by-post roleplaying, woodworking, photography and European travel, when there's not a plague on.

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