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Lars and the Real Girl

A movie directed by Craig Gillespie

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A Potentially Silly Premise for a Story Becomes a Touching, Tender Film

  • Apr 19, 2008
  • by
Rating:
+5
Were anyone to suggest that a 'romance' between a guy and a blowup doll could become one of the more sensitive films of the year, it would be cause for derision - that is, before viewing LARS AND THE REAL GIRL. The improbable story was written by Nancy Oliver (the writer of many episodes of the TV series 'Six Feet Under') and directed by Craig Gillespie who gathered a particularly strong cast of actors to present this examination of compassion and love for an emotionally injured young man by small town folks, reminding us that caring for each other is still a highly regarded value.

Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) survived a tough childhood only to become a loner terrified of emotional and tactile contact. He lives in the garage of his deceased parents' home while his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and pregnant sister-in-law Karin (Emily Mortimer) live in the main house. Despite Karin's pleadings to be part of the family, Lars prefers to keep to himself. At his job his co-workers include Margo (Kelli Garner), who is more than a little attracted to the quiet and strangely distant Lars, and a fellow who finds ' life-size love dolls' on the internet. Lars orders one of the dolls and when 'Bianca' arrives, Lars finally has a girlfriend to share his loneliness. He introduces Bianca to Gus and Karin who find the situation strange, but at the same time see the happiness in Lars that has been missing. They encourage Lars and Bianca to see a doctor Margo (Patricia Clarkson) who plays along with the concept that Lars finds Bianca real, and encourages Gus and Karin to be supportive. As it ends up the entire little town accepts Bianca and she is introduced to doing good deeds and be a vital part of the town, all through the kindness of people who love the 'delusional' Lars and care only for his happiness. How Lars gradually finds his way into the real world and copes with the understanding of his need for Bianca, the story comes to a tender ending, one that never for a moment feels like a sellout but maintains the dignity of all of the characters in the story.

This is a fine and thoughtful exploration of the needs we all have for understanding, compassion, and acceptance, and while there are some very humorous moments in this well-written story, the overall message is one of gentle love. Ryan Gosling is so fine an actor that he makes this rather complex character understandable and gains our empathy. The supporting cast is equally excellent - especially Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider. Highly recommended viewing, this is a DVD many will want to own for repeated viewings. Grady Harp, April 08

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More Lars and the Real Girl reviews
review by . November 04, 2009
Pros: Good story, acting, and a surprising delight     Cons: May be too slow or different for some     The Bottom Line: A heartwarming story in a small town where people work together to help one man. Yay.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. I don't remember if the trailer billed this movie as a comedy or not.  If they did, well, it's not.    That's not to say that it doesn't …
review by . May 02, 2009
This is not a movie for everyone. People who think every utterance regarding mental illness should be dealt with in a serious vein will probably be offended, if not outraged, by this movie. Likewise, those who have little tolerance for fantasy probably won't like it either.     But if you like good movies, it's a charmer.     Lars has had a dysfunctional childhood (like who hasn't?) and it plays out leaving him isolated in his community. In search of love, …
review by . December 12, 2008
Pros: Incredible acting. Very, very funny and touching. A film with a big heart.     Cons: None worth mentioning.     The Bottom Line: Lars and the Real Girl. It's quirky and offbeat. It's touching and symbolic. Mostly, it's VERY, VERY FUNNY. See it and enjoy.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Do you know anyone who is an outsider, a complete social misfit, .... who has no friends?     I …
review by . July 19, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Lars is a quiet and introverted kind of guy. He goes to work every day then he comes home to the garage apartment he lives in, adjacent to the house he grew up in and is now owned by his brother and sister-in-law.      As his pregnant sister-in-law's due date gets closer, Lars seems to emotionally and physically withdraw from his family and co-workers. Preferring to remain in the comforting small walls of his garage apartment, he starts garnering the concern of his sister-in-law. …
review by . July 19, 2008
Those are my people! That's my home land! Every face looks like one of my family, including Lars, who looks like a goofier me at the same age. The houses, the furniture, the downtown shops, the costumes, the church, the lake - it's all museum-quality Upper Midwest. Minnesota to me, since that's where I'm from. Only the accents and the dialogue in general don't sound Minnesotan, and I kinda wonder why not.    Given that we're all Scandihoovians together here, I can make some sense …
review by . May 17, 2008
A few years ago, a major reviewer deeply criticized the movie O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?...primarily because he felt that the movie was mostly a condescending insult to the culture of the deep South...that it made fun of the people it was depicting. The reviewer had similar troubles with the Coen Brothers depiction of the residents of small towns in Minnesota in FARGO.     I had no such qualms. However, after having seen LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, I now understand how the critic …
review by . April 17, 2008
Watch Lars once to marvel at the storytelling, the acting and the heart of this film. Watch it over and over again to absorb the charm, the quirk and life-altering love. At least that's my plan.      I adore films where ordinary and slightly broken people stretch and grow into someone inspiring and beautiful. This is that story, and not just one character inspires, several rise to the opportunity to become better versions of themselves.     Lars is damaged. …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #42
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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Wiki

To some,Lars and the Real Girlwill play as comedy; to others, tragedy. Though Craig Gillespie (Mr. Woodcock) allows Lars Lindstrom (a mustachioed Ryan Gosling, miles away fromHalf Nelson) a happy ending, the road is far from smooth. This rumpled Midwesterner couldn't be more miserable. His brother, Gus (Paul Schneider,All the Real Girls), and sister-in-law, Karin (Emily Mortimer,Lovely and Amazing), fall over themselves to cheer him up, but Lars cannot be moved; he’s been like that since childhood. Then a porn-addicted co-worker hips him to the lifelike Real Doll. The next thing everyone knows, Lars has a new girlfriend named Bianca. She's from Brazil, she's shy, and she uses a wheelchair. She's also made of silicon. (Because Lars is a devout Christian, hanky-panky is out of the question.) Since he's finally emerging from his shell, his doctor, Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson), advises Gus and Karin to play along with the "delusion." Soon the whole town, including Margo (Kelli Garner), who harbors a not-so-secret crush on her officemate, gets in on the action, forcing Lars to rejoin the human race or crawl deeper into psychosis. Written bySix Feet Under's Nancy Oliver,Lars and the Real Girlis built around such a preposterous premise, it's hard to know whether to laugh or cry. Fortunately, the actors play it straight. Gosling does his best to make Lars sympathetic, but Schneider and Mortimer, fully convincing in their concern, are the true...
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Details

Director: Craig Gillespie
Screen Writer: Nancy Oliver
DVD Release Date: April 15, 2008
Runtime: 106 minutes
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
First to Review
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