Rachel McAdams, Emma Stone, Michelle Williams, a Sex Doll… These women were all Ryan Gosling’s leading ladies in a film. If you’re confused about the fourth addition in his lady love line-up, you have to watch Gosling and ‘it’ as they star in ‘Lars and The Real Girl’.
Unlike the machismo that he exudes in his films, Gosling as Lars is the extreme opposite. He’s a functional yet introverted individual who leaves alone in a garage next to his old family house where his brother Gus (Paul Schneider who looks like Adam Levine’s older brother) and sister-in-law Karin (Emily Mortimer). Karin is convinced that something’s wrong with Lars. She often reaches out by inviting him for breakfast and dinner, and initiating small talks but Lars always felt awkward and made it a point to avoid any human contact not just to her but also to his coworkers. Although he’s helpful in the community, Lars is physically present but emotionally disconnected. Weeks later, Lars showed up to Gus, enthusiastically and dressed-up, because of a girl whom he met online. Gus and Karin were overjoyed in this new development for Lars but was baffled to finally meet the girl, named Bianca, which turned out to be an anatomically correct (Angelina Jolie-look a like) sex doll.
There’s more to than physical contact in this film, and when I say physical (with a sex doll involved), it is contrary to what people who haven’t watched this film would be thinking. Viewers would be wondering on how and why Lars bought a sex doll and treated it like a real girl and later on, girlfriend. He asked Karin if Bianca can sleep in their house because it is wrong for them to sleep in the garage. He also asked her to give Bianca new towels and clothes because she left her luggage at the airport. He even brings the clothed sex doll to church. Now that Gus is convinced that his brother needs mental treatment, Karin sought for the help of Dr. Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson), a psychologist, for them to better understand Lars. Dr. Dagmar’s diagnosis was Lars is suffering from delusion. As she continues to observe him, Gus and Karin can only help Lars by also treating Bianca as a real girl.
‘Lars and The Real Girl’ is bizarre yet a moving story of love, acceptance, and letting go. Together with the couple, Dr. Dagmar, and the townspeople, viewers will try to understand and care for Lars’ situation. It’s not the type of film that will force people to pity the character through climatic scenes and dramatic scores. Gosling himself is the reason why you’ll want to finish this film. In an unpopular get-up resembling Stanley Tucci in The Lovely Bones, Gosling charms viewers because of his sincere portrayal of Lars. We feel for him as he goes out with Bianca like what real lovers do and slowly opens himself to his community. Lars’ confrontation with Karin is important since it reveals how he felt with the people around him, thus leading us to the conclusion why he bought Bianca. Gosling is the life that breathes in to the film and he was able to release innumerable feelings for an immovable doll. Bianca became Lars’ instrument of knowing what is real. Gosling is a pure charmer of emotions and this film is just one of the evidences why he’s one of the most talented actors of his generation.
In the wintry setting of the film, the supporting cast is the heat that penetrating to Lars’ icy barrier. Aside from Mortimer’s confrontation scene, I was particularly touched in the part where Schneider blamed himself on Lars’ delusion in which he said guiltily to his wife that this wouldn’t happen if he hadn’t left his brother with their problematic father. Clarkson is in her unnaturally calm self as she plays a key role in understanding Lars. The season was winter throughout the film, which is a reflection of the sadness that Lars has been keeping to himself, and the only way to keep himself warm is being with his family and friends.
Nominated for an Academy Award in Best Original Screenplay, ‘Lars and The Real’ is unconventional yet affecting story of human connections. It is one of the films that hopefully would make an insensitive person feel again. Also, the film is a reflection on how we (and should) treat people especially those who are specially in need of care and understanding. To end the review, here’s the my Rotten Tomatoes blurb to sum up how I felt after watching the film:
Ryan Gosling is most sincere and sympathetic in a bizarre yet affecting story of love in ‘Lars and the Real Girl’. Who would have thought that viewers would feel for a leading lady made of plastic?
Thank you for reading! And here’s a flower given to you by Lars. 🙂