Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, and R.D. Reid
Running Time: 1 hr. 46 mins.
Plot Synopsis: In this comedy, Lars Lindstrom is an awkwardly shy young man in a small northern town who finally brings home the girl of his dreams to his brother and sister-in-law’s home. The only problem is that she’s not real – she’s a sex doll Lars ordered off the Internet. But sex is not what Lars has in mind, but rather a deep, meaningful relationship. His sister-in-law is worried for him, his brother thinks he’s nuts, but the entire town goes along with his delusion in support of this sweet natured boy that they’ve always loved.
Lars and the Real Girl is a disturbingly funny concept. I was concerned, at the time of the film’s release, that it just wouldn’t work. That the film would be way too awkward or bizarre for my tastes. So I didn’t see it. When the film finally made it to DVD, I still chose to pass on it. I honestly hadn’t heard many good things about the film. But finally, on the recommendation of our friends Wadrick & Manz from GritFX, I picked it up. Boy am I glad I did. It turns out that Lars and the Real Girl is a movie that everyone simply must see. Whatever your thoughts on the film are, you will remember this one.
The movie is described as a comedy/drama. I can honestly say though, that this movie isn’t a traditional comedy. Don’t expect big laughs or traditional style humor. Personally, I fund the humor in the film derived completely from the bizarre situations in the film, and even then they are not “laugh out loud” funny. The funniest parts in the film made me smile, sometimes made me think “Really?!?” From time to time, I even let out a little laugh. But at no point did I think to myself “That was funny.” So I’d have to say this film is more of a drama than it is a comedy. I feel the need to get that point out of the way early, because I don’t want anyone here being mislead.
Craziness is the name of the game for this film, and that is where it shines the brightest. Ryan Gosling plays Lars, a man teetering on the edge of lunacy. I’ve always felt that Gosling is a good actor, but I really had no idea as to the depths of his abilities. He was phenomenal. Lars was a sad and lonely man, someone who had a hard time adjusting to the world around him after an emotionally draining tragedy, and reached out to find comfort in the plastic arms of a love doll. Even though Lars is seemingly in love with his plastic girlfriend, there is something else there. Some traces of more traditional thoughts and feelings. The character needed a talented actor for the portrayal to work well. Simply put, without Ryan Gosling or an actor of his caliber, something that becomes increasingly harder to find with Gosling continuing to pull off amazing performances, Lars and the Real Girl would be nothing more than an oddball, uninspiring tale of insanity. Gosling was at the top of his game, so to speak. He grabbed you and wouldn’t let go. It was an awe-inspiring performance for sure.
Lars was a character that clearly had issues that his family and the towns-folk simply couldn’t understand, and weren’t prepared to deal with. Yet they loved Lars; he was always a good, honest young man. There are a lot of stereo-typical “small town” values displayed in the film. When Lars “snaps” the rest of the town can’t help but look upon him with shame and disgust. Everyone stares as he and “Bianca” pass by, and they talk about him behind his back. Yet to his face, they go along with the delusion. Classic small town issues. Now, it appears that they go along with it out of genuine love and caring for Lars. But I’d have to disagree. It’s fairly obvious to me that the town is just as judgemental as you would expect them to be. They just wouldn’t understand anything out of the ordinary, anything that doesn’t fit with the town and it’s inhabitants. It really sets up some awkward moments. The basis of the drama, the importance of this film, the message it sends, all of it revolves around the reactions that Lars gets from the people around him whenever he is with “Bianca.” The movie is offers a very simple message that is driven home in a very subtle way:
Forget about what you think, what you feel, what you think you know. Cast away your preconceptions and judgemental thoughts. Free yourself from the restraints of prejudice and open your mind to new things. Just because it is different does not mean it is wrong. Just because you don’t understand does not mean it is crazy. Try not to judge.
Lars and the Real Girl is a genuinely heartwarming, quirky and bizarre independent type film that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. The film delivers a great message in a nice, clean way. It would be easy to see this film turning into a lowbrow, dirty and pornographic comedy. But the film stayed away from all of that, and managed to be a nice film that could be shown to younger audiences, despite it’s shocking premise. I encourage everyone to pick this up. This is a movie you will not soon forget.