Lars and the Real Girl

1 out of 5 stars
It’s hard to imagine what, exactly, Ryan Gosling saw in Nancy Oliver’s painfully twee script about a basket case named Lars who, much to the relief of his long-suffering sister-in-law (Mortimer) and brother (Schneider), suddenly announces that his “girlfriend” has come to stay. One slight problem: She’s a sex doll. Since he’s really a sweetheart in addition to being a sociopath, everybody else in town decides to play along. As the kindly psychiatrist (Clarkson) keeps telling his neighbors—and us dim audience members—this is the only way Lars can heal his psychic wounds.

Using a boink toy as training wheels for emotional maturity is an intriguing concept, even without the promise (thankfully unfulfilled) of hot man-on-polyurethane action. But heaven forbid you expect anything from Craig Gillespie’s self-conscious take on mental illness, other than grating indie-flick quirk. Gosling, a talented actor who’s done wonders with potentially stock characters before (see Half Nelson), here demonstrates nothing but a facility for chronic blinking and stooped shoulders. Even he can’t guide us to the pulse within this pat material, and you have to keep reminding yourself which of the title characters is the plastic one.


Release details

0 mins

Cast and crew

Craig Gillespie
Nancy Oliver
Ryan Gosling
Patricia Clarkson
Emily Mortimer
Paul Schneider
Kelli Garner
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