LARS AND THE REAL GIRL
Length: 106 minutes
Director: Craig Gillespie (Mr. Woodcock)
Writer: Nancy Oliver (HBO’s “Six Feet Under”)
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Kelli Garner, Patricia Clarkson, Lauren Ash
It’s no secret that “Juno” is probably going to win the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay this year. I liked “Juno”- don’t get me wrong- but they’re going to give the award to the wrong movie. As snappy as the dialogue was, you can’t tell me that it was very realistic. Movies have a problem with the way their characters speak. People don’t always respond with witty comebacks or know exactly what to say at the right moment. “Lars and the Real Girl” is a rare film that understands this. The characters say and act the way normal people would act and react. Funny given the premise- a lonely guy named Lars (Ryan Gosling) in a small town orders a sex doll and when it arrives he pretends she is an actual person- his girlfriend to be precise. What a ridiculously stupid movie this could have been if it had fallen into the wrong hands- hell, when I saw that director Craig Gillespie’s only other prior movie credit was the dreadful “Mr. Woodcock”, I thought it was going to be ridiculously stupid. Instead it is one of the best movies of 2007. It doesn’t go for cheap laughs. It fleshes out it’s characters and nothing feels false. You don’t question why the townspeople would go along with it and accept “Bianca” (the doll) as one of their own or why one of Lars’ co-workers (Kelli Garner) is desperately in love with him despite his obvious mental issues. Take for example a scene where Lars’ brother, Gus, (the always brilliant Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law, Karin, (Emily Mortimer- robbed of an Oscar nod) have to bathe the doll. In the middle of it, they look at each other and laugh and Karin says “Isn’t this hilarious?”. How refreshing- this is a movie that treats it’s audience with respect. There are no obvious sex gags (Lars and Bianca don’t even sleep in the same bed) or forced jokes. The humor comes from the film’s honesty in dealing with the situation. The performances are all excellent. I’ve been on the fence about Gosling for years, but I’ve finally come around. He is perfect here. Schneider and Mortimer are absolutely terrific, so is Garner (she’s the next Amy Adams). Everything just works. “Lars and the Real Girl” is warm, intelligent, and just flat out wonderful. More Oscar nominations or not- “Juno” should be jealous.