Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

This is one of those movies that's impossible to watch the preview and remotely grasp what kind of a movie you will be watching. The previews would lead one to believe that they will be watching a silly little movie about a guy who becomes infatuated with today’s equivalent of a blow-up (but much more realistic) sex doll. However, what really lurks under here is a tender and sensitive tale about a young man, Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling), who is so distant and afraid of being hurt that he can’t open himself up to love anything other than something as safe as his "love" doll named Bianca.

Bianca and Lars meeting his brother and sister-in-law

One of the things that I adore about this movie is its theme of acceptance and community. Once Lars takes a huge leap and starts to introduce Bianca around to his close-knit hometown, instead of treating him like a pervert, they try to show him compassion and open their arms to him and his new girlfriend. They realize that this recluse of a young man is reaching out, albeit in a terribly strange way, and if they reject him while he is finally coming out of his shell – he may never recover. The interesting thing is that as he begins to see how compassionate, warm and loving his town is to Bianca, he can start to risk opening himself up to more than just his "love" doll. The overall idea here is that compassion can heal people and I very deeply believe this to be true myself.

Ryan Gosling and his amazing performance as Lars is what makes this movie work. He plays the young man with such commitment and conviction that you begin to care for Bianca because you care so much about him and his struggle. He plays this delusional and sheltered man so well the audience immediately roots for Lars instead of snickering at him on the screen. That is quite a feat for a movie about a man in love with his doll.

Of course, all this serious psyche analysis talk doesn't mean that there aren’t quite a few absolutely riotous moments involving either Lars introducing Bianca to his family or the town’s reaction to seeing her “out and about” with Lars. It is very funny at times, but that really isn't the overall tone of the film as you might expect.

This is my second or third viewing of this film and I remember thinking that I want to live in a town like this – where people care enough to try to understand your problems rather than mock you for them. I loved the older woman at the church meeting that put everyone in their place by telling their family secrets about their problems and saying “These things happen” and pledging her support to act like Bianca is real.

The supporting cast is very good as well. The standouts for me were Emily Mortimore as the sister-in-law who kept trying to reach Lars in his shell. Also, Patricia Clarkson as the primary care physician who is clever enough to develop a rouse of giving Bianca weekly treatments just so she could talk to Lars and help him work through his problem.

I have recommended this one to many people and haven't had anyone say they didn't love it as much as I did. So to you out there who haven't seen this one and think that current movies are ALL rubbish - I highly recommend this film. This one will help you believe that original movies are still being made, albeit rarely. So relish this gem.


Natasha Reed said...

I loved this movie, and my heart just swelled when I saw how his community embraced his new "girlfriend." This is a wonderful movie.

Jennythenipper said...

I'll check this one out, Abby. As always you are my link to more current movies.

We loved your Christmas card. We all got a big kick out of the kitty picture. It takes so little to entertain!

AbbyNormal said...

Natasha - I am glad you got to watch this one. It is a great movie. It is a shame so many people were turned off by what they thought it might be.

Jenny - Do me a favor and drop me a line to tell me what you think of this one if you ever get 'round to watching it. I hate to think that *I* am a link to current movies for anyone, but since you are my link for a host of classic movies, I will try to live up to the responsibility. Also, as far as the Xmas card, I loved it too. When I saw those in the store, I knew the pic was the motivation I needed to finally get Xmas cards in the mail since I had skipped a few previous years. (As evidenced by still have .37 Xmas stamps in my possession. Ouch)

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