Saturday, 26 September 2020
Lars and the Real Girl
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Monday, 19 November 2007 00:00
Who would have thought that a movie about a man who orders a sex doll from the internet could ever be described as “heart-warming”? But this is the perfect adjective for Lars and the Real Girl, a sweet and thoughtful movie starring Ryan Gosling.

Gosling has made quite a name for himself as one the most promising young actors of his generation. It’s surprising to think that the skinny kid from TV’s Breaker High would go on to star as a romantic lead in The Notebook, one of the most successful romance films of the decade. Not to mention get an Oscar nomination last year for playing a crack-addicted schoolteacher in Half Nelson. Against the odds Gosling has chosen varied and interesting roles to develop his talent, rather than get stuck in the trap of repetitive teen films. Not surprisingly Gosling is one of the best things about this movie and his character Lars is about as offbeat a role as an actor could ask for.

Reclusive Lars lives in the garage behind the family home, now inhabited by his older brother Gus and Gus’s pregnant wife Karin (Emily Mortimer). Karin is worried about her brother-in-law who keeps to himself more and more and who actively tries to escape socialization, preferring instead to sit alone in the sparsely furnished garage wrapped up in the baby blanket his mother knit him. To call him a little odd would be an understatement.

The self-imposed loneliness comes to a climax however, when Lars receives a large parcel in the mail. His family is overjoyed when he claims to have a visitor staying with him, that is until they meet his new girlfriend. Bianca is an eerily realistic, anatomically correct plastic sex doll, but to Lars’ imagining she is a real person. He introduces her as being from Brazil and explains she can’t walk and that he needs to buy her a wheelchair because hers was stolen. Bianca moves into the guest room and the whole town is asked to make her feel welcome, pretending she is real right along with Lars on the advice of the town psychologist (Patricia Clarkson).

Lars may sound crazy but there are reasons for his behavior that are discovered throughout the film, and the tenderness he feels toward his plastic girlfriend slowly brings them to light. The movie is thought provoking and more than a little melancholy, but that isn’t to say it’s not funny. One scene in which Lars resuscitates a co-workers teddy bear is both humorous and poignant because he is in a unique position to understand what the inanimate toy might mean to her. The co-worker in question is Margo (Kelli Garner) who is a ray of sunshine in the northern town. She would love nothing more than for Lars to transfer his affections from Bianca to her but is willing to wait for him to come around. I’d argue that the “Real Girl” of the title isn’t really the plastic one at all, but the flesh and blood one that is standing right in front of him waiting to be loved.

Lars and the Real Girl is a film that I think would appeal to a wide audience. If you’re looking for an escape from the big budget blockbusters of the holiday season, this film provides great entertainment, solid performances and a touching story. I give it 7 out of 10 stars.