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  Publicity Stills of "Lars And The Real Girl"
(Courtesy from Lighthouse Pictures)

Genre: Drama/Comedy
Director: Craig Gillespie
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Kelli Garner, Patricia Clarkson
Released By: GV and Lighthouse Pictures
Running Time: 1 hr 46 mins
Rating: PG (Some Sexual References)
Official Website: http://www.larsandtherealgirl-themovie.com/

Opening Day: 25 October 2007


Written by "Six Feet Under" scribe Nancy Oliver, "Lars and the Real" Girl is a heartfelt comedy starring Academy-Award nominated Ryan Gosling as Lars Lindstrom a loveable introvert whose emotional baggage has kept him from fully embracing life. After years of what is almost solitude, he invites Bianca, a friend he met on the internet to visit him. He introduces Bianca to his Brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and his wife Karen (Emily Mortimer) and they are stunned. They don't know what to say to Lars or Bianca – because she is a life-size doll, not a real person and he is treating her as though she is alive. They consult the family doctor Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) who explains this is a delusion he's created – for what reason she doesn't yet know but they should all go along with it. What follows is an emotional journey for Lars and the people around him.

Movie Review:

Ryan Gosling does everything except what people actually do with high-end love dolls in his latest film, “Lars and the Real Girl”. The film shatters our expectations almost immediately when it reassures us that it is more profound than tawdry, and that its quirks mask cracks of quiet desperation, which its inherent kindness instinctively develops into a transcendental journey for both characters and audience alike. Notwithstanding the insinuations of modern crudity in its conceit, the layers of complexities that it ends up mining makes director Craig Gillespie's (most recently of “Mr. Woodcock”) feature quite sincere and clever in its handling but never manipulative, a sidestep that not only owes to the top tier performances but to Nancy Oliver’s (“Six Feet Under”) deft script that rounds off its characters. Of Gillespie’s two films in the cinema halls this year, “Lars and the Real Girl” is inscrutably of the higher calibre.

Gosling is first among equals in the crop of young Hollywood actors. Dissimilar but not without commonalities from his previous roles, he intelligently plays emotionally damaged individuals with intensity and potent glimpses into their true nature. The film benefits immensely from the sterling lead performance by Gosling, who delves in Lars’s social disabilities for pathos without ever turning him into a sad-sack caricature. Evocating the human intangibles is difficult territory for any actor so Gosling does what even Lars would do by closing himself off physically, glazing over his expressions in a deadpan wasteland of emotions and internalising his conflict of rage and fears that he can only find comfort in something just as impassive in Bianca, the doll.

In its broad outline, “Lars and the Real Girl” presents a portrait of a man who buys an anatomically correct doll in proxy of opening himself to real relationships and to address his unfulfilled needs. But not his physical needs, because with vivid imagination, he paints Bianca from who she is, her ancestry, her convictions, and Lars finally finds his peace of mind when he’s together with her. It’s also about the divine graces that are created for its characters by other characters and how compassion is shared and returned.

Following the tracks on its story’s exposed nerves, Gillespie initially sits back and lets Gosling take the reins by introducing us to Lars and his perceptions of the world around that’s so enclosed in stagnation that it only serves to enshrine the milieu of a tight-knit community. It creates situations where unhappiness collides with spirited humour, a remarkable balance of tone that carries the weight of nuances and momentous epiphanies. Intrinsically, the film is just a modest story that reveals something much more about humanistic qualities still at work in a cynical world.

There’s a deeply rooted message of tolerance in this film that’s being adopted by many Christian moviegoers as well, despite its blow-up catalyst. In a world of cinematic crassness and furious banalities of venomous dysfunction, it takes more effort to carry the problems of our troubled kin on our backs than to ostracise and repel. The film understands, profoundly and with love and sadness, the fundamental fragilities that shape us. In a landscape of other films that advocate conflict, it is unusual to witness this film, which actually wants its characters to get along and be happy. “Lars and the Real Girl” is one of the best films of the year.

Movie Rating:

(Kind and gentle, it twines humour and deep emotions into an immensely gratifying film)

Review by Justin Deimen


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