Dusting Off… Lars and the Real Girl
What is it?
A 2007 film from director Craig Gillespie (Fright Night, Mr. Woodcock), Lars and the Real Girl stars Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider in an unusual but utterly charming story by Six Feet Under writer and co-producer Nancy Oliver. Billed as a comedy-drama, the film tells the story of Lars Lindstrom, a good-natured but incredibly shy young man who finds love on the Internet. So far, so normal in this day and age, but what makes this film’s concept totally different from your average love story is who, or rather what, Lars falls in love with.
What’s the plot?
Lars, played by Gosling, is a pleasant if socially awkward man living in small-town Wisconsin, in a converted garage behind the family house, inherited from his late father by Lars and his brother Gus (Schneider), who lives in the house with his wife Karin (Mortimer). Karin’s attempts to lure Lars inside are constantly rebuffed as he finds it difficult to interact with other people. This includes his family, the other townspeople and his co-worker Margo, played by Kelli Garner, who is clearly romantically interested in Lars but struggles to get him to communicate with her beyond the most basic of small-talk.
One day Lars knocks on the door of the house and proudly announces he has a visitor, a girl he met on the Internet named Bianca who, Lars tells them, is a missionary of Brazilian-Danish descent. Karin and Gus invite Lars and Bianca over for dinner, but are shocked to discover that Bianca is an anatomically correct sex doll, whom Lars treats as if she was a real person.
Worried that he might be having some sort of nervous breakdown, Gus and Karin talk to their family doctor, who also happens to be a psychiatrist. The doctor tells Gus that Lars’ behaviour may be a manifestation of having not properly dealt with the deaths of their parents and asks he and Karin to play along with the charade.
Throughout the rest of the film Gus and Karin, along with the rest of the townspeople, attempt to humour him by inviting the couple around for dinner, pretending to converse with the doll and even getting her a part time job in a local clothing store as a changing rooms attendant, while Lars slowly but surely begins to interact more with the people around him.
Why should I revisit?
Lars and the Real Girl is one of the most original and charming films you are likely to see and although the concept could easily have turned into one long sex doll joke, Oliver’s clever screenplay and Gillespie’s nuanced direction ensure that the film steers clear of the obvious gags, with the comedy coming instead from the bizarre situations in which Bianca plays a part.
Who will enjoy it?
If you’re looking for something totally different but still want to watch a film that will make you laugh, cry and laugh some more, this is it. And ladies, if that doesn’t grab you, did we mention it stars Ryan Gosling?