Apr 17, 2008

Lars And The Real Girl

Lars And The Real Girl is a hugely enjoyable experience. Wry and humorous and ultimately quite moving, it works for one reason above all others. Ryan Gosling. This remarkable young actor IS Lars. He makes this character work in a way few actors can. He lives and breathes the awkward and socially inept Lars to such a degree that sometimes you can forget that he is merely playing a part. The success of this film is due to him, but the rest of the cast is superb as well. The writing is succinct and observant, direction strong and assured, making for a distinctly rewarding cinema experience.

Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) lives in a small, rural snowbound North American town. He works in a nondescript office, with other workers who could be described as nondescript also. Lars is critically shy, to the point of shunning all human interaction. He lives in a garage behind the house of his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and his wife Karin (Emily Mortimer). They are a solid couple, expecting their first child. They, especially the very kind Karin, try to involve Lars in their life. But he prefers to keep to himself. Alone and seemingly without prospects. Well, Margo (Kelli Garner) is interested in him, but he ignores her completely. However Lars decides to order a 'love doll' on the internet. 'Bianca' arrives and Lars introduces her to Gus and Karin as his newly arrived, from Brazil, girlfriend. They are naturally stunned. Gus believes Lars to be basically "nuts". They subtly refer him to a therapist, Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson), who advises them that Lars is suffering from a delusion and the best course of action is to believe in his delusional behaviour. So, we set out on a course of the whole town slowly going along with the plan of pretending 'Bianca' is real. 'She' accompanies Lars everywhere and the town involves her in all manner of activities. Now if this sounds quite a ridiculous premise, you might be right. But in the hands of director Craig Gillespie and a giving cast the film actually evolves into a tender and touching portrayal of a young man with special needs and the community that bonds around him. Crucial to the film's success are the relationships between Lars and Gus, as well as Lars and Dagmar. Gus and Lars reveal more about their relationship then is first evident, giving major clues to Lars' problems. Whilst Patricia Clarkson is once again exemplary in her role as the intelligent and understanding therapist. The scenes between Gosling and Clarkson are wonderfully performed and truly touching. In hindsight the story line is somewhat predictable. But this film is more about the journey then the end result. The great performances of the cast give this film a certain measure of weight, leaving you laughing in delight one minute and reaching for a tissue the next. This is done with a delicate touch, the film never dipping into cliche. Filmed entirely in Ontario, Canada Lars And The Real Girl is a true gem of a movie. One to give strong and purposeful entertainment.

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