SATURDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Last night, I saw “Lars and the Real Girl,” which stars Ryan Gosling (La La Land, The Nice Guys), Emily Mortimer (Transsiberian, Match Point), Paul Schneider (Parks and Recreation [TV series], All the Real Girls), Kelli Garner (The Aviator, Bully), and Patricia Clarkson (The Green Mile, The Station Agent). It is directed by Craig Gillespie (The Finest Hours, Million Dollar Arm) and written by Nancy Oliver (Six Feet Under [TV series], True Blood [TV series]). When Lars’ (Gosling) family is concerned for him and his loneliness, they are soon overjoyed when he finally gets in a relationship. However, the joy quickly subsides when they realize the girl in question is a plastic doll who Lars thinks is real.
Nothing says Christmas like watching “Lars and the Real Girl,” right? It is a holiday classic after all… For a while now, I’ve been looking for another independent film to dive into; you know, the ones that scream wittiness and wackiness? It’s a sweet spot in the cinema world for me and I enjoy it immensely. So, when I was looking through my parents’ DVD book, I stumbled upon a Ryan Gosling flick that seemed interesting. From there, I searched the plot summary online and my fate was sealed. As you can tell by the synopsis above, this is not your typical feature. It’s about a man who buys a plastic woman, believing she’s real. Everyone else decides to play along with his delusion, resulting in a doll being treated like a living human being. It’s weird for sure, but there’s more to the story than meets the eye. What I thought was going to be a comedic flick revolving around a bizarre individual turned out to be a study on kindness, and how its true nature can help anyone in an ailing time. At times it was completely absurd, while others it was warm-hearted and genuine. To say I was moved by the film may be stretching it, however I will not leave out the notion that I was captivated. This is a sweet picture that takes a lot to swallow; that’s not to say it is hard to grasp (the story is straightforward), but rather that there is a lot of zaniness to consume on a subdued level. This isn’t “Gentlemen Broncos,” where characters become radicalized in their awkward states to embody a nonsensical plot. “Lars and the Real Girl” presents a real delusion and plays into it in a weird, yet thematic way. Through the dummy, Lars deals with issues that are bottled up inside of him; it’s more of an internal conflict rather than an external one for the movie. Gosling’s performance as Lars was phenomenal. He’s slowly etching his name into my personal top actors list, having seen him in “La La Land” and miscellaneous videos throughout the web. Everyone else did a pretty solid job as well, with noteworthy performances given by Emily Mortimer and Kelli Garner. The characters certainly absorbed the story more so than the situation, and I think they were all developed rather well. Gosling’s character of Lars was a complete anti-hero, being so awkward and shy that you could cringe. However, it’s completely fresh and Gosling approaches it in an unfaltering way. Really, a lot of things that happen around him come off as awkward, whether it’s Margo (Garner) trying to warm up to him or Gus (Schnieder) and Karin (Mortimer) trying to accommodate Bianca. This is like something I’ve never seen, primarily for the film’s approach to this scenario. The theme that takes precedence can come off a bit too syrupy for my tastes, though I did enjoy some of the warmth certain scenes presented. Some scenes that I particularly liked were the climactic moment of Karin yelling at Lars and the bowling sequence between Lars and Margo. They were hearty scenes that spoke volumes for the characters. Besides the performances and fresh idea, one last thing to note is the musical score. David Torn did a terrific job in the music department; though a huge chunk of the film is void of score, when it rings in it does proudly. When it comes down to it, my biggest complaint of “Lars and the Real Girl” lies in its ending. While the resolution was sweet and endearing, how the town handles everything seems a bit too overblown. It works for the theme the writer is going for, but like I said, it can be a bit to syrupy and absurd. You could think otherwise, but for me it was a tad off-putting. Regardless of that, I still found the picture to be very good. It’s quirky and has a heart of gold that attempts to speak a message on true kindness. While some may be creeped out by the scenario involving the doll, the conflict and theme extend far past the plastic exterior. FINAL SCORE: 86%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: