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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lars And The Real Girl Is Awesome

Came back from the movies tonight. Saw "Lars And The Real Girl". I'm giving it 4 1/2 out of 5. It's that good.

High concept premise: a man falls in love with a sex doll. You think you know exactly what kind of movie this is going to be. But it's not. It's from one of the writers of Six Feet Under. It's a highly original script.

Lars (played by Ryan Gosling, who is now officially one of my favourite actors) is a devout Christian so the thought of sex with the doll never even comes into his head. He's an incredibly shy and lonely man who lives in his brother's garage. One day, he announces to his brother and his sister-in-law that he has a visitor who is Brazilian, wheelchair bound and doesn't speak English, and asks if she can stay in the house instead of sharing a bed with him (Christian fear). They are then shocked to discover that the visitor is a Real Girl doll. However, since the Real Girl is finally allowing Lars to come out of his shell and interact with people again, they are encouraged by the town doctor (played by the again brilliant Patricia Clarkson) to go along with it. Slowly, the whole town is convinced to go along with his delusion and soon everyone is accepting "Bianca" as one of the town's own.

Like I said, it sounds silly and high concept, but it is hands down one of the sweetest and funniest movies I've seen in a long time - I am tempted to even put it above Juno. Ryan Gosling gives a DeNiro-like performance, physically and emotionally changing himself so much and creating such a sweet and sympathetic character with Lars that it's impossible not to break his heart and shatter the illusion of who he has fallen in love with. It was also great to see Kelli Garner on screen again as Margo, Lars' workmate who has a not-so-secret crush on him.

It's a simple idea really isn't it? As humans, we dote on inanimate objects all the time. Two of Lars' workmates have action figures and teddy bears which they invest their emotions in. When one of the hangs a noose around Margo's teddy bear, she is distraught beyond all comprehension. She is in tears. Objectively, it's irrational, but it's totally believable. Why is it not forseeable then that that same emotion is extended to a larger inanimate object?

Performances and writing from everyone involved were top notch. It even had one or two audience members crying at the end (not to spoil it) but it's a testament to all involved that if you can make an audience invest emotionally in the fate of a doll, why can't the characters?

Was gypped at the Oscars, but it did pick a nomination for Best Original Screenplay (beaten by the favourite Juno).

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