Lars and the Real Girl

lars and the real girl 2007

Lars and the Real Girl [2007] is the sophomore effort of Director Craig Gillespie with an Oscar-nominated screenplay by Nancy Oliver and a Golden Globe-nominated performance from Ryan Gosling. It also stars the wonderful Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, and a sex doll.

Lars and the Real Good Movie. There’s a lot that this film does right, and almost all of those things have no right to work as well as they do. And they work really damn well. Whether that’s a testament to the impeccable screenplay, the phenomenal performances, or the sure-handed direction is anyone’s guess. I’m pretty sure it’s a marriage of all the aforementioned that brings real love, real emotion, and real honesty to a film that focuses on a troubled man and his internet sex doll.

Lars and the Real Story. What’s so beautiful about the story is that it handles a silly situation that could have been infused with raunchy jokes and circumstances with delicate honesty and heart. It’s a story about mental health, social anxiety, family, and relationships. While it ultimately follows a man who’s incredibly shy and who develops a delusional love for an internet purchased love toy the story is imbued with ideas surrounding the strength of a community, what it is to be understanding to those with poor mental health, and why love and relationships are such a human necessity. None of the characters are exaggerated, they all act and respond with purity and honesty. None of the situations are stretched out to ridiculousness, it’s all directed subtly and respectfully. There’s nothing about this film that feels odd or out of place. It’s all rooted firmly to the ground, making its humor and sadness that much closer to reality.

Lars and the Real Acting. Ryan Gosling’s performance is the obvious highlight, playing a man with what appears to be crippling anxiety. His incredible shyness causes him to live in his brother’s garage, always finding an excuse when being repeatedly invited to dinner by his pregnant sister-in-law who’s determined to open Lars up. It’s not until Lars purchases a “Real Doll” sex doll from the internet that he begins to blossom from his shell. He falls head on into a delusional relationship with his newfound dream girl, Bianca, which leads to concern and dismay from those close to him. The only solution suggested by a psychiatrist is to go along with the game and support Lars and his relationship. Only time will tell if Lars will eventually not need the delusion anymore and come back to reality.

Lars and the Emotions. The entire town falls in line to support Lars and bring Bianca into the community, causing the doll to become a very active member. Lars’ time spent alone and around others with Bianca is where Gosling is really able to shine, as he’s completely committed to the scenario as much as Lars is. It’s only because of this that the emotions shared by Lars are so palpable and hit the audience so hard, the same as any other normal romantic relationship would. It’s because of these moments and these performances that the film is able to land (with great efficiency) laughs, tears, and smiles to those who view it.

What could have been a ridiculous and mishandled premise is presented with love and honesty thanks to a perfectly crafted screenplay, honest direction, and exceptional performances?