Posted by: kfugrip | November 7, 2007

One hundred seven: Lars and the Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl, directed by Craig Gillespe, was my payment for making Kelly go and see The Illusionist (which I mistook for the much superior The Prestige).  She hated it and it ended our streak of seeing really good movies every time when went to the theater.  For that I agreed to go and see Lars and the Real Girl.  I didn’t initially want to see it but it turned out to be an entertaining movie and I’m glad I went.

Lars and the Real Girl is about a man named Lars (Ryan Gosling) who is so lonely and withdrawn that he orders a “real doll” sex toy and introduces it as his girlfriend.  Through a series of odd choices the entire town pretends that the doll is a real person named Bianca.  It all ends happily of course, it’s a comedy.

What I liked:  I find Ryan Gosling to be an interesting actor who makes smart choices.  Most recently his choices have been excellent including and I can see his reasoning behind the choices.  Fracture: working with Sir Anthony HopkinsHalf Nelson: interesting role that allows him to flex his acting muscles.  Stay (which was terrible): director with great track record, Mark Forster.  With these choices and this rational he is much like Matt Damon, carving out a respectable career and I think that this choice, Lars and…, was to try comedy in an interesting script.  Though I expected that I wouldn’t because of how mannered the performance was, I like him in this film and I also liked Paul Schneider and Emily Mortimer.

I also liked the style that Gillespe was using to shoot the film.  Actors were given space to move and perform and the introductory scene for Lars was beautiful and understated in a realistic way.

What I didn’t like:  The film pushes the threshold of believability so far that it becomes distracting.  Most films of a similar ilk would have exaggerated the characters and the situation into a cartoonish frenzy so an entire town acting as though a doll is a real person would work a bit better.  Gillespe chose to shoot this as a drama, quiet and realistic, so the actions of people are more difficult to swallow.  Once we as audience members make the cognitive leap necessary for the film to happen in the context of the style it was made in then we can immerse ourselves in the story.  I never made that leap and found the film distancing and disengaged emotionally, which is what Gillespe and the writer Nancy Oliver, intended.

3 stars

lars-and-the-real-girl.jpg

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Responses

  1. as i’m sure you would suspect, i totally disagree with your review (except for agreeing with your comments about strong performances – although you forgot to mention Patricia Clarkson, who was great, as always). interestingly enough i believe i gave the film the same 3 stars that you give it here.

    i think this movie only works with the unbelievable storyline played for drama…had it been played for comedy it would have been ridiculous and inane, Ben Stiller’s next movie if you will, which makes me gag just thinking about it. instead it is sweet and heartfelt.

    i do think there should have been a little more “reality” in that surely at least one person in this town would be a jerk and/or make some cruel jokes that would be directed at Lars or would work their way back slowly to Lars and his family, no town is so nice as to not have a couple jerks. overall however i found the town to be believable and the context the creators showed us was realistic, people from Lars’ brother’s work, Lars’ work, Lars’ church, etc. these people cared about Lars and his family deeply and it makes sense in that kind of close knit environment that people would go out of their way to help those around them.

    also, for me, once the characters got into the pretending, i think they found it surprisingly easy and even freeing. in the end it was through the kindness and understanding of an entire town that allowed a very lonely and sick man to heal enough to make a change in his life for the better. and really to prepare him for the future that was being thrust upon him with his sister-in-law’s pregnancy. i think this movie spoke volumes about lonliness in the world today, and how we’re all actually incredibly lonely people, but some of us just manifest it differently.

    all this said, i may have to up my rating.

    the things that keep it from being a home run for me is the fact it was a little too cute, and really a little too everything. i can’t think of another way for the creators to make it work, but it was a little “too” for my tastes.


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