Movies We Like
Lars and the Real Girl
Here it is. Weird and definitely not what anyone was expecting but the next film to grace our local cable stations every day twice a day from Thanksgiving to Christmas and beyond will be Lars and the Real Girl. That is until some billionaire tycoon buys the darn thing and only lets it play once a season in order to preserve it. Thanks for ruining Christmas, billionaire tycoon. It's a Wonderful Life aside, Lars has all the charm, pathos, and even menace of its classic predecessor. Ryan Gosling plays Lars, a goofy under achiever who has seems happy enough in his quirky solitude despite his sister-in-law's maternal pressing for more social interaction. He is liked and respected at work, in the community and has even inspired a crush by the new girl in his office.
Not until he introduces his Internet girlfriend, Bianca, a Brazilian missionary raised by nuns, do we realize his situation is more dire than that of a solitary bachelor. Bianca is a life sized doll made to order and anatomically correct. In Lars' mind she is also a real person. His delusion is complete and Gosling's performance so nuanced that her side of conversations are filled in by your own imagination. At once Lars' brother and sister-in-law seek help as Lars' fragility becomes utterly apparent. The stunning absurdity of the situation filmed with a cunning honesty and a soundtrack that plays at a love story but weaves the underlying sadness from Lars over Bianca and subsequently, the audience, makes it inevitable that we write the dialog and story between them. Disturbing? Maybe, but Lars is loved and protected by the entire community. Not since It's a Wonderful Life has a township been portrayed with such fun and affection. Lars has touched all of them somehow, if only by finally being himself in the midst of his sadness.
Ryan Gosling certainly has the talent and appeal to be another James Stewart . With his sometimes awkward and starry eyed vulnerability combined with a classic handsomeness that even snowflake sweaters and a badly trimmed mustache can't hide, he invokes the whimsy of Harvey and the powerful tragedy of the famous bar scene in It's a Wonderful Life.
Other wonderful highlights include Lars' brother, played with a complimentary stoicism by Paul Schneider, coming to terms with the burden carried by his younger brother and that life's complications do not weaken a man but make him. Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer and Kelli Garner help fill in the missing woman in Lars' life, beckoning him gently back to their reality. I have to mention one of my favorite scenes with some of the matrons of the town who sit and knit. That's it. And it's enough to break your heart.
I can't wait to stay up late and watch this twenty times before Christmas, crying and feeling, if not exactly wonderful, better than I did before.
Lars and the Real Girl was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.