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Sometimes you find love where you'd least expect it. Just ask Lars (Academy Award-Nominee* Ryan Gosling), a sweet but quirky guy who thinks he's found the girl of his dreams in a life-sized doll named Bianca. Lars is completely content with his artificial
Were anyone to suggest that a 'romance' between a guy and a blowup doll could become one of the more sensitive films of the year, it would be cause for derision - that is, before viewing LARS AND THE REAL GIRL. The improbable story was written by Nancy Oliver (the writer of many episodes of the TV series 'Six Feet Under') and directed by Craig Gillespie who gathered a particularly strong cast of actors to present this examination of compassion and love for an emotionally injured young man by small town folks, reminding us that caring for each other is still a highly regarded value.
Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) survived a tough childhood only to become a loner terrified of emotional and tactile contact. He lives in the garage of his deceased parents' home while his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and pregnant sister-in-law Karin (Emily Mortimer) live in the main house. Despite Karin's pleadings to be part of the family, Lars prefers to keep to himself. At his job his co-workers include Margo (Kelli Garner), who is more than a little attracted to the quiet and strangely distant Lars, and a fellow who finds ' life-size love dolls' on the internet. Lars orders one of the dolls and when 'Bianca' arrives, Lars finally has a girlfriend to share his loneliness. He introduces Bianca to Gus and Karin who find the situation strange, but at the same time see the happiness in Lars that has been missing. They encourage Lars and Bianca to see a doctor Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) who plays along with the concept that Lars finds Bianca real, and encourages Gus and Karin to be supportive.Read more ›
Lars lives in one of the snowed-in Northern states; his town could be next to Lake Wobegone. He's painfully shy, in an utterly literal sense of the term - he won't even visit his brother and sister in law in the house adjacent to where he lives. Maybe it's no suprise that he orders a customized, anatomically detailed love doll.
The surprise is that it comes to life for him. Everyone else sees a slightly creepy adult toy, but he brings "Bianca" everywhere - to dinner with his brother and sister in law, to a Christmas party with his co-workers, even to church. He concocts an elaborate fantasy about why she says so little, why she needs a wheelchair, even why she needs to borrow clothing. A psychologist tries to address his delusion but, while it works itself out, recommends humoring him. And so, the entire community does. If they're going to treat her as real, they're going to do it right.
Therein lies the quirky charm of this movie - an entire town rallying around one of their own, playing their part in his odd drama. If that's what's best for him and there's no harm in it, they'll do it. A few balk, of course, but only a few and not for long. They accept Bianca fully into their community, sometimes to Lars's dismay.
The happy ending (happy enough) makes this into a movie about redemption, but that over-simplifies this complex film. The premise looks like some modern-day fairy tale. Once set in motion, the movie carries itself forward with understated kindness, maybe even nostalgia for a small-town closeness, whether that closeness ever existed or not.
(4.5 *'s) Lars Lindstrom has all the foibles one sometimes associates with a ventriloquist. Socially inept and insecure, every encounter with even loved ones is full of awkwardness and fumbling. He has difficulty expressing himself and relating to others. At home he lives in the mother-in-law house (or garage as they say) next to his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law Karen (Emily Mortimer). One night a well-meaning Karen tackles him on the driveway to get him to stay for dinner. Needless to say he is almost traumatized by her good intentions. Work is as pedestrian as it gets: He works in a cubicle doing work on the computer for an unknown company. Co-worker Marla (Kelli Gardner) shows an interest in him, but even her overtures leave him flummoxed. Another co-coworker is friendly, but offers him his favorite porn. That is until he introduces him to his latest offering from "Real Doll.dot.com". Anatomically correct, the life-size doll gives Lars an idea.
Coming home to dinner once again, Lars is beaming about his new girlfriend. Gus and Karen are also beaming, truly enthusiastic and proud. Until they meet Bianca, the "real doll" who is seated with a conversing Lars. Lars is transformed. His speech is confident; his cheeks are reddened; and his outlook is happy. First comes shock; then comes acceptance. Not quite knowing what to do, Lars is so believable that they start to believe it too. They have him see a therapist (Patricia Clarkson), the general practitioner in their small Northern Wisconsin town, and the pastor gathers his flock together. Everyone starts to make jokes, but eventually they go along with someone who is truly delusional. Bianca starts to become real.
Billed as a comedy, `Lars and the Real Girl' is too often sad to be funny.Read more ›