Lars And The Real Girl Film Review

Looking for something to watch? Lars and the Real Girl is a quirky 2007 comedy with a feel-good factor. It tells the story of a small town that is forever changed by the arrival of a new member in their community. The film opens on the life of Lars, who is played by Ryan Gosling. Lars suffers from emotional problems and is painfully shy. His co-workers, fellow church goers and family members make attempts to help Lars break out of his shell, but their efforts remain unsuccessful.

Lars’s inability to connect with others is not the result of an unwillingness to do so. He is clearly lonely but his shyness and emotional barriers prevent him from ever reaching out to anyone. Lars eventually manages to connect with a girl named Bianca. But there’s a catch. Bianca is a life size blow-up doll that he has ordered off the internet. He seems to believe that she is a real person. He is also very much in love with her.

Ryan Gosling plays Lars, an eccentric man who believes that his blow-up doll is a real girl.

The town’s psychologist informs Lars’s brother and sister-in-law that he is in the throes of a delusion and that the best way to help him is to play along. They enlist the help of the town’s residents, who agree to facilitate Lars’s fantasy. Out of fondness for his gentle personality, the townsfolk come to accept Bianca into their community and, in the process, she manages to have a profound impact on all their lives.

The film breaks away from the dark tones of the subject of blow up dolls, which frame these dolls as a sign of perversion, and humanizes the phenomenon. It turns a symbol of depravity into a tool for restoring the audience’s faith in the kindness of human nature. Writer Nancy Oliver and director Craig Gillespie do not attempt to pathologize Lars’s condition with needless dramatic tension and present a sincere, quirky take on the subject of loneliness, and compassion.

In Lars and the Real Girl, a blow-up doll brings out the best in the town's residents.
In Lars and the Real Girl, a blow-up doll brings out the best in the town’s residents.

Lars is a well written character who brilliantly captures the nuances of emotional alienation and also the hope that moves one to break free from it. Over the years, Ryan Gosling has developed a mature, understated style of acting. This movie is a perfect display of Gosling’s sophisticated approach towards his characters. He doesn’t overplay Lars’s awkwardness and isolation. Lars’s sincerity comes across as not only believable, but also relatable. His eccentricities are endearing but Gosling does not use unnecessary theatrics in an effort to force his audience’s sympathies.

Emily Mortimer gives a commendable performance in her supporting role as Lars’s sister-in-law. Her concern for Lars does not come across as contrived and, at the same time, her character’s own complexities are not reduced or ignored. The elegant Patricia Clarkson also puts forth a sophisticated performance as Lars’s psychologist that is subtle but also impactful.

Bianca is a character in her own right, not because of the things she does but the ways in which she affects the people around her. She brings the people of the town together, in joy as well as grief, and teaches them important lessons about themselves as a community. As the town grows to accept Bianca as a person, so does the audience. Her character is a reminder that much of what defines one as a person is the ways in which they influence people around them. Bianca and Lars’s connection also becomes more and more real as the film progresses. There is nothing perverted about Lars’s treatment of her, in fact their relationship is nothing but respectable and charming.

Lars and the Real Girl, Lars and the Real Girl film review, indie films
The relationship between Bianca and Lars is sincere and free of uncomfortable undertones.

The basic structure of most narratives involves the breaking of an equilibrium, with events finally culminating in a new equilibrium at the end of the narrative. Lars and the Real Girl reaches this conclusive equilibrium in an elegant and organic manner which is earnest and does not resort to gimmicks. It is the kind of movie that will make you believe in the inherent goodness of the world around you while shining a light on the complexities of human connection and loneliness in some very impactful ways.

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