Maybe I Do – Film Review

Written and directed by Michael Jacobs, and based on his play Cheaters, Maybe I Do is a study of marriage, infidelity, and the influence parents have on their children. With a solid cast, including William H. Macy, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Richard Gere, Emma Roberts, and Luke Bracey, Maybe I Do marks Jacobs’ directorial debut.

Michelle (Emma Roberts) and Allen (Luke Bracey) are a young couple debating whether to get married. Michelle wants to take their relationship to its next logical stopping point, while Allen fears that marriage will destroy the best parts of their relationship altogether. At the push of Michelle’s parents, the young couple decide to bring their families together in an attempt to convince Allen to pop the question. Though they soon discover that their parents already know each other and that getting Allen to propose might be more difficult than Michelle bargained for.

Allen’s parents, Sam (William H. Macy) and Monica (Susan Sarandon), have been falling apart for some time. Monica, convinced that marriage is a waste, has been having a long-time affair with Howard (Richard Gere), while Sam engages in a one-night pseudo-affair with Grace (Diane Keaton) in an attempt to regain his sense of youth and manhood. None of them know the true extent of their connection to each other until they come together for dinner, leading to a night of chaos and uncovered secrets.

Michelle and Allen are fairly clear reflections of their parents; Michelle, having been raised by two supportive and seemingly loving people believes in the ‘true love fantasy’ that because she and Allen are in love, their happiness is all but secured. Whereas Allen’s experience with a meek father and a cynical mother has left him with a deep fear of commitment that is threatening to derail their relationship.

Roberts and Bracey have a great on-screen chemistry. The two previously starred opposite each other in the somewhat raunchy holiday romcom Holidate, so are clearly comfortable being in front of the camera together. Bracey, who is from Sydney, could have benefitted from a little more time with a dialect coach to curb his native accent from slipping through. But overall, the pair are a great sight together.

The Hollywood heavyweights in the cast are the primary focus of the film, with many scenes vacillating between Sam and Grace’s night together and Monica and Howard discussing the end of their affair. Macy and Gere put on quite a performance and have some great on-screen moments together, and Sarandon really leans into the persona of a woman who feels that her life should have gone differently. Keaton is the only one who doesn’t lend that much to the film, and this is not to say that she isn’t any good, but she has definitely done better.

Maybe I Do is a pretty unique romcom. Because of his roots in theatre, director Jacobs’ approach to his first feature film very much mirrors the production of a stage play, focusing on a small ensemble cast, fewer set locations, and a minimal soundtrack and score to allow the story to unfold with as much clarity as possible.

The dialogue throughout the film even flows with a really particular cadence that one wouldn’t typically see in film. Jacobs’ characters speak more poetically, the humour is carefully and cleverly executed rather than relying on stunt work or slapstick comedy, and the cast act more as if they were in front of a live audience than expensive cameras. It gives the film something that its peers just don’t have, or rather can’t capture; the feeling that you’re not simply watching the story unfold on a screen, but that you’re seeing it in real time.

Maybe I Do might not make the impact of other mainstream romantic comedies, but it’s arguably got more heart and a better story than its peers.

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