Sunday, 18 March 2012

Review - Lars and the Real Girl (2007 - Dir. Craig Gillespie)

The whole premise of Lars and the Real Girl sounds seedy in the extreme; a geeky, mustachioed loner forming a relationship with what is essentially a high class blow-up doll called Bianca. It doesn't sound like the kind of film that you'd buy for your impressionable teenage niece for Christmas (yeah, sorry about that - evlkeith), but once viewed it emerges that this is a gentle but deceptively thought provoking drama dealing with issues of life, love and bereavement. It's warm, intelligent and surprisingly intelligent and well scripted.

There are some stunning performances which lend an air of believability to the distinctly odd situation. Ryan Gosling as Lars is a quirky romantic lead, perfectly balancing the dual roles of besotted lover and mentally unhinged victim. His performance underwrites the whole film and bizarrely manages to simultaneously bring the inanimate character of Bianca to life in the sincerity of his interactions and dialogue. All the acting is superb, but the female characters of Emily Mortimer (Karin), Kelli Garner (Margo) and the excellent Patricia Clarkson (Dagma) are all worthy of special mentions.

The one criticism of the film is that you know where the plot is headed after about twenty minutes, but this really doesn't matter. As with all the best heart-warming movies, the story is carried by the wave of empathy and emotional we feel for all the characters and the ultimate resolution seems natural and satisfying rather than contrived. Lars is not about what happens, it's about how and why it happens. I suggest watching this in a three way heart-warmathon with Waitress and The Notebook as we did over Christmas for maximum impact.

(Imagine a world where people with mental illness are treated with compassion and respect; that's what you get with Lars and the Real Girl. Alternatively, think of the real world where we would take the mad woman who looks like Yoda and eats raw fish out of a wrapper as she walks out of Somerfield, and slap her on X-Factor or Britain's Got Talent and have a right good laugh at her. 

I really enjoyed Lars too. A hidden gem - evlkeith.

If you like this you could also try:
Waitress, The Notebook, Garden State.

Or for more blow-up doll action:
River's Edge, City of the Living Dead, Bottom Live.


  1. Good review! Yes,good performances, especially Ryan Gosling. What made the film unique for me was how the community genuinely welcome Bianca, and accept his strange relationship. And in that way encourages the same sort of understanding and warmth from us the audience when we meet oddballs in real life.

    I read this review and I thought it was great. , by Theo Alexander

    1. Thanks for that. I'll have a look at unsungfilms, always on the look out for new stuff.