Lars And The Real Girl (12A)



Comedy (2007)
106mins US

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Patricia Clarkson, Kelli Garner
Director: Craig Gillespie
Writer(s): Nancy Oliver
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Office worker Lars Lindstrom lives alone in a small cabin in the backyard of the family home, where his older brother Gus and wife Karin are preparing for the birth of their first child. Out of the blue, Lars tells Gus and Karin that he has met someone nice on the internet. He neglects to mention that she is a life-size love doll made of vinyl. Fearing that his little brother is going insane, Gus seeks guidance from local therapist Dagmar, who suggests that the whole town to "go along with it".

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Interviews (Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer and Nancy Oliver)

LondonNet Film Review
Lars and the Real Girl

"How'd you know?" Lars is a delusional boy in his mid-30s, asking his older brother what it takes to be a man...

Lars and the Real Girl. Verve PicturesIt's a valid question, obviously, because there must be people who have somehow bypassed all the rites of passage, hidden as they are. And what then? What becomes of someone who is missing great swathes of the human experience?

That there are questions like these at the heart of Craig Gillespie's Lars and the Real Girl is crucial. The premise is silly - Lars turns to a silicone replica of a woman named Bianca for comfort, claiming her to be real. His small community somewhere "this far north" accepts his delusion in order to try and reel in Lars's wandering soul. This is dangerous material for a film, because if anyone (the writers, director, each and every member of the cast, even the crew) gives in to the temptation to gape or snicker, the whole thing goes from silly to stupid in a hurry.

Lars and the Real Girl. Verve PicturesBut no one does, and instead of a few chuckles and then a whole lot of yawns, Lars provokes a genuine tug at the heart of anyone not completely blackened by cynicism. Elderly Mrs. Gruner, played with warm strength by Nancy Beatty, gives Lars's mannequin girlfriend flowers after church one Sunday, and Lars leans close to tell Bianca, "They're not real, so they last forever."

The film doesn't dwell on the moment, doesn't tug on your sense of sentimentality by putting things in slow motion or cueing the soulful strings. It's exactly the kind of matter-of-factness employed on such loaded lines that keep the film from becoming sickeningly adorable.

Lars and the Real Girl. Verve PicturesMost of the characters (all but Lars, really) are written as predictable stock. There's the sage aging doctor and the heart-of-gold matronly type and the sceptical husband with a soft side. It doesn't matter, partly because Lars isn't nearly as predictable, but more because the performances are so strong. You get the sense that there are many more dimensions to all of these people, even though it's not necessarily there, in the script. And it's no revelation at this point that Ryan Gosling is spectacular. If it weren't for Daniel Day-Lewis's domination of There Will Be Blood, in whose shadow all other performances this year must stand, you'd have heard even more about Gosling's Lars. He's a hundred-sided gem of fragile and earnest and powerful and warm and dark and on and on.

It's infrequent that a film takes 'boy meets girl' and goes somewhere unexpected with it. And in the age of a four-hundredth Rambo it's so encouraging to see something that's willing to find the line and then stop.

- Kiernan Maletsky

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