Friday, January 25, 2008
As Real as a Doll Can Get
Lars and the Real Girl
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer
and Patrica Clarkson.
Before I review Lars, let me say this:
Even though this movie may not be too new, it came out last year, so why review it now? It's not in theaters, the only thing buzzed about it is its ONE nomination. But I still can't get this movie off of my mind. It's killing me, I feel if I don't give this movie the phrase it deserves, then who will?
Lars, which if you read a synopsis may sound like the new Judd Apatow movie. Guy falls in love with a sex doll. Hilarious, right? And yes, it's very funny in places, but that's not the part about it I'll remember. What gets me, what really has brought me to review this movie is that it is a moving fable. Sure, it's not the greatest indie movie of the season, but still it's a movie that did not really come across to many audiences. It was well reviewed, but people seemed to avoid this one. I was lucky to manage to see it at my local movie theater and was able to watch such a uniquely beautiful movie.
What Lars does is show life through our main character's eyes, how what he sees is normal, while his brother sees this as him going insane. Lars never really had a mother, she died shortly after childbirth, so it was him, his father and brother, Gus. Eventually, getting sick of being surrounded by depression, Gus split and left Lars with their melancholy father. Gus constantly feels he is to blame for his brother's irregular behavior and his obsession with this doll. So to him, this doll is a normal girlfriend. What also keeps this movie great is the fact that it can have a character that is a life sized sex doll, steal the scene. What makes scenes involving Bianca, the name of the doll as picked by Lars, so funny is that she says nothing but since Lars has her alive in his mind, she is technically real.
An important point the movie brings up is what you are supposed to do with such an oddball like Lars? You could react like the following: a) Treat him like a mental patient or b) Treat his new "girlfriend" like Lars does.
So enough about the points it brings up, here's the fully story behind Lars:
When we meet Lars, he is a socially awkward boy in the body of a young man. He hasn't really grown up, he is afraid to be touched by others, he will occasionally walk away whenever his comfort level is jeopardized and he also strays away from achieving a social life. But as soon as a guy at work(More like Perverted Cubicle buddy) tells him about this Real Doll site, Lars(Played with extraordinary emotion by Ryan Gosling) soon after orders a doll. As mentioned by another reviewer, part of the story is odd because he orders the doll himself, so he kind of knows what he's in for. But still, it doesn't affect the movie at all.
As I mentioned before, his brother, Gus(Paul Schneider) and his pregnant wife, Karin(A wonderful Emily Mortimer, despite a couple slip ups with her British Accent) react differently. At first, they are completely dumbfounded. You can see it in their faces that they are disturbed not only by the fact that Lars has befriended a doll, but while sitting in her whorish clothes, Lars claims she is a missionary.
The two both come to an agreement, they send Lars to the local doctor because they want to help him become detached to this inanimate object, but they tell Lars it is because Bianca looks ill and needs to be checked up on. Through the many visits, Dr. Dagmar(One of my favorite actresses Patrica Clarkson) Lars starts to mature and grow a bit. He is less awkward, he allows people to be closer to him, he even takes up an invite to bowl with the cute girl from his office who has a mad crush on him, Margo.(An irresistible Kelli Garner) But as the movie goes on, Bianca's health worsens, but her connection with the town grows stronger. The many people who participate in loving Bianca really care for Lars, so they show this by helping Bianca get accustomed to their town and gain a social life. Who knew a doll could be elected on the School board?
What struck me the most was the final act of the movie, where Lars grows up and decides to leave his childish things behind. It's sad and ultimately hard for a man to say goodbye to a doll you spent the beginning of the movie growing fond of. The sweetest part for me was how the town loved him and stuck by him and his doll. So you can't help but feel an ounce of remorse for the central character.
The script, written by Nancy Oliver who wrote for "Six Feet Under" (My Favorite Show) is full of love and emotion and the actors show their 3-dimensionality in their behavior and their actions. Only Oliver could take a story such as this and turn it into an aching work of brilliance, how something that could be played one way goes in the opposite direction.
The scene I love most is when Margo finds one of her stuffed bears hung with cable cord by Lars' cubicle mate after his action figures were stolen by Margo. To help her, Lars begins to resuscitate and bring the bear back to life. Not because he thinks its real, but because he wants Margo to laugh. In a few minutes we learn that Lars knows what is real and what is not, and he has matured from the beginning of the movie. Now, he is growing up, and is able to both leave things behind and keeps others close to his heart. And that is what I walked away with.