Lars and the Real Girl
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Written by: Nancy Oliver
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Paul Schneider, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson
Pretty much your standard indie-love-dramedy. Boy meets girl. Boy suppresses feelings for girl. Boy orders an anatomically correct mannequin off the internet in replacement.
Okay, so not quite the standard love story arc we’re used to, but it’s definitely something quirky and cool enough for to get excited about, since it is the premise is really what drives the interest throughout movie. Lars Lindstrom (Gosling) lives in the garage/apartment adjacent to the home his brother (Schneider) and him inherited from their dead parents. For the most part Lars seems like a normal guy, driving his own car, attending church, dressing in a range of gaudy sweaters and working in a small desk job where he has many co-worker friends who attempt to reach out to Lars. The problem is, is that Lars rejects their affection and often seems irritated by their company and kindness.
Soon enough Lars finally breaks out of his shell and giddily introduces his sister and law and brother to a beautiful wheelchair-bound Brazilian visitor he met on the internet named Bianca. Oh, and she’s a plastic sex doll. On the request of his psychologist, his family and neighbors treat Bianca as the person Lars believes she is. They dress her up, bathe her, let her volunteer in the community until it reaches the point where we wonder if they remember that Bianca is 90 pounds of bendy silicon.
In different hands the film could have been a complete disaster, a five minute concept drug out into two hours of who cares. But veteran writer and producer of Alan Ball’s Six Feet Under and True Blood series Nancy Oliver delicately nurtures this plastic premise into a living and breathing script that takes a good look at responding to delusion, or less specifically, responding to the odd with acceptance. It shows how the community should react with tolerance. Substitute Lars’ delusion with retardation, disability or homosexuality and you essentially have the same message.
The film tip toes around the high sensitivity of the subject. It never goes too deep into Lars’ delusion, or how that delusion affects his family and friends. Never is it too dirty or mocking. It is a very grounded story that just skims the top layer. And really the top layer is all that is needed. Anything else would just weigh it down and make it something less interesting.
The main problem is ‘Lars’ is that despite how dexterously it is conceived and executed, is still a rather dull and humdrum film made up of plastic and dressed in human clothes for us to watch.