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
Ryan Gosling plays Lars, a man with a severe social disorder. He usually avoids contact with people, even his brother (Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer). But then Lars orders a sex doll from the internet, and he pretends that she is real and is his girlfriend. The local doctor (Patricia Clarkson) suggests that everyone in the small town in which they live go along with the delusion, hoping Lars is just working things out in his head. It's kind of a cute concept, but, honestly, I could never buy into it. First off, before the sex doll arrives, Lars seems weird but not so crazy as to do as he does. A person so removed from reality probably wouldn't attend church every week, and certainly wouldn't be able to hold down a regular job in an office. And while I might buy that some of the people close to Lars would go along with the game, it's not easy to buy that everyone in town would be happy about it. There are numerous scenes with the town's children, the most literal-minded members of the human species, sitting around not even questioning the situation, including one bizarre scene in which she is supposedly reading aloud to kids without Lars even there. Then there's this one character, played by the lovely young Kelli Garner, who has a crush on Lars from the beginning of the film. Instead of reacting with horror at Lars's girlfriend and running away, she is, while at first shocked, eventually charmed by it. People just don't act like real people in this film. And even if I could buy into it all, I felt that the film was too repetitive, always cutting to unfunny reaction shots of a new person meeting Bianca, which is what Lars calls the doll, or even less funny reaction shots of the doll itself. The performances are generally good. I think Gosling, who was fantastic in his Oscar-nominated performance in Half Nelson, relies a bit too much on method acting, with his constant blinking and whatnot. One might call him Chaplinesque at times, like in the scene where he pretends to bring Garner's teddy bear back to life. But I was more thinking of Johnny Depp pretending to be Chaplin in Benny & Joon, which is a similar but much better movie. The only actor who rises above the mediocre material is Emily Mortimer, who is the only one, in my opinion, who sells the concept. I really believed that she would care enough about her brother-in-law to go along with his delusion. It's her finest performance yet in a career I'm sure will become much bigger.
23 of 37 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?