Review: Lars and the Real Girl

April 17, 2008 at 11:51 am 1 comment

What a wonderful little film. The plot has all the makings of an absurd Farrelly Brothers movie: a lonely man buys a sex doll and pretends it’s real. However, there is true emotion that resonates in the writing and the performances that I don’t want to categorize it as a ‘comedy’. I know the term ‘dramedy’ is now acceptable for describing films that want to make you laugh and cry, but I think that does a disservice to the film. This is a straight-up drama, written, performed, and directed with great emotional gravitas. And it makes you laugh every once in a while.

Ryan Gosling plays Lars, a 27-year-old who lives in the garage on his deceased parents’ property. He has an office job, goes to church on Sundays, and likes to wear sweaters over a shirt and tie. He’s also very lonely. Living in the house is his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and his wife Karin (Emily Mortimer). Gus cares for his brother, but doesn’t really know how to help him. He assumes that Lars is dealing with the death of their father in his own way. Karin, however, notices Lars’ loneliness and goes out of her way to make him feel more comfortable. Rounding out the cast of characters are Margo, a church choir singer who works with (and has a crush on) Lars; Dagmar, the family doctor who happens to be a psychiatrist, and various members of their small-town community.

When Lars introduces Bianca, the sex doll, it turn the community on its head. No one knows how to deal with it, least of all Gus and Karin. However, Karin decides to embrace the situation at the behest of Dagmar. They see it as Lars dealing with his issues. He’s become delusional, but not dangerous. If this is what he needs to help himself, then so be it. What follows is a very heartfelt journey into the mind of a very lonely man.

Ryan Gosling gives an outstanding performance as Lars. Though his mannerisms may suggest some real mental disability (his refusal of physical contact and avoidance of social situations), he’s a perfectly functional adult. He knows how to drive, bathe, eat, work. For all intents and purposes, he’s just incredibly shy. When he brings Bianca into the picture, he truly believes in her. Lars isn’t just putting on a show for the town or making light of his lack of a companion, he honestly believes that he has someone special, even though she came in a box and was delivered by UPS. Ryan Gosling portrays this perfectly: the joy in his eyes when he talks to Bianca and the sorrow he feels when he’s forced to deal with the real issues. One of the best moments in the movie is the dance scene at the party; watching it, you can truly feel the elation that Lars feels as he sees he and Bianca being accepted by everyone.

Emily Mortimer also deserves mention for her performance as Karin. The lengths she goes to in order to help Lars may make one think that she secretly loves him instead of Gus, but that just doesn’t come out in the performance. She’s possibly the perfect sister-in-law, willing to risk he social standing to help her husband’s brother and going out of her way to treat Bianca like a real person. Paul Schneider also gives a great performance as the older brother who never really knew Lars (which is explained in some backstory that I won’t give away here).

The only issue I have with is the structure of the plot. There’s a change that happens within Lars, and once you see that change, it’s pretty obvious where the story is going to go. However, the characters are so well-written and the roles played with so much weight that I can completely overlook the predictability of the plot.

This is such a great film. I honestly think that the film’s script is a little better than Juno and maybe Nancy Oliver should have won over Diablo Cody. On a side note, I really liked Juno, I just felt that the dialogue was trying to be ‘too indie’, but I loved how the adults were written. Anyway, if you liked Juno, you’ll definitely like Lars and the Real Girl. It’s charming, funny, and sometimes heartbreaking, but it’s quite an experience to watch the characters go on this journey.

8.5/10

(images from Yahoo!)

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Entry filed under: movies, television. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. patrick  |  April 24, 2008 at 7:58 am

    just saw Lars and the Real Girl, had never even heard of the movie before last night, Ryan Gosling did a great job playing out his character’s psychological transition from totally dysfunctional to somewhat functional

    Reply

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