A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
In this comedy, Lars Lindstrom is an awkwardly shy young man in a small northern town who finally brings home the girl of his dreams to his brother and sister-in-law's home. The only problem is that she's not real - she's a sex doll Lars ordered off the Internet. But sex is not what Lars has in mind, but rather a deep, meaningful relationship. His sister-in-law is worried for him, his brother thinks he's nuts, but eventually the entire town goes along with his delusion in support of this sweet natured boy that they've always loved. Written by
Lo and behold, a film that still believes in simple human kindness.
There's been a severe lack of that on our movie and television screens lately, which is why I found "Lars and the Real Girl" utterly irresistible. I imagine this is the kind of movie that's either going to work for you or it's not. I can guarantee that if you go into it and pick apart all the ways in which it's not realistic, you're not going to enjoy it.
Ryan Gosling has rocketed to the top of the list of my favorite contemporary actors. He's given two of the best performances in the last two years: here in "Lars" and last year in "Half Nelson." The success of "Lars and the Real Girl" depends almost entirely on Gosling's ability to sell this character to the audience, and he does so flawlessly. Lars is a sweet teddy bear of a man who also happens to be intensely lonely. He orders a life-size and anatomically correct sex doll and proceeds to make a companion of her, taking her to parties, to church, to family dinners. A psychiatrist (a marvelous, as usual, Patricia Clarkson) tells the family that the best thing they can do for Lars is to encourage his delusion until he works through whatever is causing it; they relay that to the townspeople, who take it to heart. As a result, Lars's "girlfriend" is completely accepted by the town, and even gets elected to the school board.
Ultimately, "Lars" probably isn't very realistic, but isn't it nice to think it could be? That a group of people could be this warm, kind and accepting, simply because they happen to like somebody and want to see him get better. The film is full of wonderful performances from everyone. In addition to Gosling and Clarkson, Emily Mortimer shines as Lars's caring and worried sister-in-law.
It really irritates me that critics were divided on this movie on the basis of it pushing the boundaries of credibility, when they almost unanimously praised "Gone Baby Gone," a film so melodramatic and heavy handed as to be no less implausible, and that goes down as two of the most unpleasant hours I've spent in a movie theatre for a long time. Has our culture now decided that a film about good kind people is too unrealistic to stomach, and that the only movies that ring true are ones about human depravity?
So far, "Lars and the Real Girl" is one of my favorite films of the year.
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