At first glance “Definitely, Maybe’ appears to be a typical run of the mill romantic comedy (boy meets girl, they fall in love, a serious problem surfaces, they fix it and live happily ever after). A cute guy, a kid, and a couple of beautiful actresses combined with the Manhattan landscape thrown in for good measure. But the movie turns out to be quite a surprise. Breaking away from the cliché, the movie is a delight to watch as it tells a sweet story of a man, his daughter and the three women walking in and out of his life.
William Hayes (Ryan Reynolds) is a soon to be divorcee living in Manhattan, working a dull 9 to 5 job. Abigail Breslin plays Maya, his young, precocious daughter trying to come to terms with her parents divorce. At a curious age, she implores her father to tell her how he met her mother. He agrees, but on his own terms. Will alters a few facts and change names so that Maya herself can guess who her mother really is.
Flashback to 1992 and we begin our journey through about a decade of Will’s life. First, we are introduced to Emily (Elizabeth Banks), the girl-next-door and his college sweetheart, who he leaves behind in Wisconsin to work for Bill Clinton’s campaign in New York. While struggling with toilet paper rolls, coffee and bagels at his new job, Will meets April (Isla Fischer). He finds an instant connection with the free-spirited and apolitical April, who harbours dreams of travelling the world. Although when she actually does leave to travel, in comes girl number three: Summer (Rachel Weisz). Summer comes into the picture as a struggling writer in an on-off relationship with a man almost twice her age. He quickly falls in love with her but it all comes to an end when both their professional and personal differences get in the way. As the melodrama continues, it becomes harder and harder to identify Maya’s true mother.
Writer-Director Adam Brooks moves effortlessly through the past and present. He actually manages to keep you patient right till the end. With some interesting scene settings and close shots, he achieves his goal of giving the film a sense of warmth. Breslin portrays a ten year old well beyond her age with great aplomb. Reynolds also does a good job in playing a loving, albeit melancholy and lonely, father. All three actresses manage to pull off their roles with a certain sophistication and dignity. Isla Fischer in particular makes your heart melt.
In spite of maintaining your interest right till the end, the story does have a few flaws. For one, it never discloses the reason why the protagonist and his wife get a divorce. Also, the political storyline is overdone and the film tends to lose focus at certain points while trying to amalgamate too many plots. In addition to that, the character of Summer’s boyfriend, although holding some interesting potential at the start, fizzes out leaving you wondering why he was necessary to the storyline anyways.
The overriding aspect of the movie, however, is its unpredictability. As young Maya puts it: “It’s like a love-story mystery”. The end is truly atypical in nature and every time you think you’ve got the right girl, there’s another twist. Unlike most films in its genre, “Definitely, maybe” will hold appeal not only to women, but to men as well. Brilliantly narrated with a consistency to match, the film is a definitely a good watch.