Lars and the Real Girl

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Small-town America, and shy office worker Lars (Ryan Gosling) spends his evenings alone, a gentle but seemingly friendless soul. A chance glimpse of a crass colleague’s web-surfing prompts a life change, however, when Lars subsequently takes delivery of shiny plastic companion ‘Bianca’, a raven-haired beauty lifelike in every detail.

Unsure how to react when Lars tells them she’s of Brazilian and Danish stock, a paraplegic and very religious, his brother and sister-in-law (Paul Schneider, Emily Mortimer) put up ‘Bianca’ in their spare room and seek the advice of a therapist (Patricia Clarkson), who reckons they should go with the flow and let Lars work through his… issues.

So, a story about a man and his sex-doll played not for snide laughter but as a touching fable on the restorative powers of human affection. That’s certainly an unexpected combination, and writer Nancy Oliver (‘Six Feet Under’) was Oscar-nominated for her screenplay, recognition for the way this tall tale holds its nerve and stands up for thinking the best of people.

Arguably, it works better as an idea than it does on screen, where Gosling’s man-child performance flirts with tweeness and the willingness of the whole community to go along with the ruse tests basic credibility. Still, if it’s more satisfying as a conceit than a story, that’s not to deny Schneider and Mortimer’s splendidly sympathetic work as caring, quizzically willing accomplices, and the grace with which the film avoids the fnarr-fnarr overtones that might break its delicate spell. Not entirely successful then but admirably original.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday March 21 2008
Duration: 106 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Craig Gillespie
Screenwriter: Nancy Oliver
Cast: Ryan Gosling
Patricia Clarkson
Emily Mortimer
Paul Schneider
Kelli Garner

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|10
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andy

the doll is a plot device to put a fine point on mental illness. there's nothing sexual about it. the townspeople were of course exaggerated to symbolize the kind of caring and support that is possible. movies are the realm of ideas, concepts, and possibilities. if they were a mirror image of real life, who would watch? this one avoided cliches and neat tidy resolutions. you know the main character will always be bizarre, but a few people will try to accomodate this out of love. you really missed the boat on this one.

reckoner

It was with the entrance of the therapist that I began to fall in love with this film. What, at first, seemed entirely unrealistic - would anyone anywhere in the world really believe that going along with his outrageous delusion was a good idea? - became a touching message of hope that maybe, as the human race, we really are capable of dealing with people's problems with open minds and loving hearts. Lars' creation of Bianca seemed, initially, preposterous but turned out to be a brilliant strategy to recover from his inability to be close with people. This film showcases the very best qualities that humanity has to offer, and made me want to move to Ontario and never leave.

reckoner

It was with the entrance of the therapist that I began to fall in love with this film. What, at first, seemed entirely unrealistic - would anyone anywhere in the world really believe that going along with his outrageous delusion was a good idea? - became a touching message of hope that maybe, as the human race, we really are capable of dealing with people's problems with open minds and loving hearts. Lars' creation of Bianca seemed, initially, preposterous but turned out to be a brilliant strategy to recover from his inability to be close with people. This film showcases the very best qualities that humanity has to offer, and made me want to move to Ontario and never leave.

Incheon Park

in the beginning I found it bit wired.. even bit disgusting, so I couldn't understand the main character at all. However, when he was crying over his dead plastic-made girlfriend I cried with him. I reckon that's the power of sincere acting. must be seen.

Curt

Don’t let the fact that this is a movie involving a sex doll scare you away. Crude humor, mean-spirited insults, cheap double-entendres or otherwise ugly human behavior--such as may be found from reviewers of this film--is nowhere to be found in this thoughtful gem of a movie. Ryan Gosling stars and it’s not anything like one might expect, despite the doll prop. It’s a decent, sweet, kind-hearted movie with a lot to say. If you aren’t the cynical type or you are willing to put your cynicism on hold for a couple of hours, I highly recommend it. I’m shocked that those involved pulled this difficult concept off with such style and grace.

Curt

Don’t let the fact that this is a movie involving a sex doll scare you away. Crude humor, mean-spirited insults, cheap double-entendres or otherwise ugly human behavior--such as may be found from reviewers of this film--is nowhere to be found in this thoughtful gem of a movie. Ryan Gosling stars and it’s not anything like one might expect, despite the doll prop. It’s a decent, sweet, kind-hearted movie with a lot to say. If you aren’t the cynical type or you are willing to put your cynicism on hold for a couple of hours, I highly recommend it. I’m shocked that those involved pulled this difficult concept off with such style and grace.

Tim

Wow - I am blown away by these so-negative reactions. I found this film strange, yes, but VERY funny, VERY sweet, VERY touching and, best of all, VERY human. It presents an outrageous situation, to which everyone reacts in the most human, caring and - and this is the film's greatest success - believable way possible. I loved it.

Tim

Wow - I am blown away by these so-negative reactions. I found this film strange, yes, but VERY funny, VERY sweet, VERY touching and, best of all, VERY human. It presents an outrageous situation, to which everyone reacts in the most human, caring and - and this is the film's greatest success - believable way possible. I loved it.

Trace Oakley

Finally, someone gets it right. The film is terrible in practically every respect, but its most fatal flaw is that Gosling seems in on the joke. Not one character rang true, and the cheap gags mixed with maudlin sentimentality left me nauseated. The worst episode of MONK deals with mental illness more effectively, and humorously than this clunker. While Lars' relationship with a fake girlfriend opened him up to the wonders of the real thing, the 95 minutes I pissed away watching this made me long for a real movie.