Who would have thought that a movie about a guy who falls in love with a sex doll would be anything worth watching. But Craig Gillespie's Lars and the Real Girl is a superb, deeply moving story that had me totally engaged and riveted to the screen.
Lars (Ryan Gosling) is a recluse who lives out in the garage owned by his brother, Gus (Paul Schneider), and Gus's wife, Karin (Emily Mortimer). Lars goes to work and stays to himself in his little cubicle rarely talking to anyone. Margo (Kelli Garner) admires him from a distance while Lars is completely oblivious to her interest in him.
Lars has shut everyone out, including Gus and Karin who try their best to involve him in their lives. It is obvious that Lars doesn't want to feel anything or let anyone into his world.
One day at work, one of his colleagues is browsing the Internet and shows Lars a site where you can order an anatomically correct girl for obvious purposes. Lars secretly orders one. When it turns up, he introduces "Bianca" to Gus and Karin as his girlfriend. They are completely shocked but, recognising there is something very wrong with Lars, they play along, eventually persuading him to take Bianca to the town's doctor (Patricia Clarkson) who is also a psychologist. She convinces Gus and Karin that this is a phase that Lars is going through and that he needs to be able to play it out in order to heal some deep need.
Gus and Karin, although highly skeptical, decide to help and they begin to inform his work and the community of the plan. Thus begins a fascinating journey, not only for Lars, but for all who know him.
Lars and the Real Girl is absolutely wonderful. With a fresh narrative, superb acting, and a spot-on script, this potentially cheesy story is a moving portrait of a man in deep emotional pain who is healed by a community that gathers together to support him.
Humans yearn for love. But sometimes things happen that emotionally traumatise us to such an extent that we shut down all possibility of others making contact with us because we fear being hurt again. We often find meaning and fulfillment in things we believe will satisfy — but they don't. We are made for human relationships. But when we are broken and in pain, unwilling to let others in, how is it possible to be healed.
Lars and the Real girl is ultimately about the perseverance of those who love unconditionally and who ultimately succeed in penetrating the very high, very solid, walls of defence. For those who come from a belief in God, it isn't hard to see in Lars and the Real Girl a superb analogy of the persistent love of God who never gives up despite what seems like impenetrable walls of pain and suffering. For those who don't share that belief, it affirms an equally essential truth — we cannot survive without the love of other people. Our human relationships are absolutely essential to our survival.
Lars and the Real Girl is a wonderful, moving, heart-warming, gentle, profound story which will linger with you long after the credits roll.
My Rating: ***** (out of 5)
'It's nothing less than a miracle that the director, Craig Gillespie, and the writer, Nancy Oliver, have been able to make such an endearing, intelligent and tender comedy from a premise that, in other hands, might sustain a five-minute sketch on TV.' - Joe Morgenstern/The Wall Street Journal
'Lars and the Real Girl wobbles in a slow, toneless no-man's-land between mawkish and schmaltzy while trafficking shamelessly in heartland stereotypy.' - Ella Taylor/The Village Voice
Some sex-related content
AUS: PG USA: PG-13