Lars and the Real Girl
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Craig Gillespie
scr Nancy Oliver
with Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Patricia Clarkson, Kelli Garner, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, Nancy Beatty, RD Reid, Doug Lennox, Karen Robinson, Joe Bostick, Billy Parrott
release US 12.Oct.07,
UK 21.Mar.08
07/US Kimmel 1h46
Lars and the Real Girl
Meet the family: Schneider, Mortimer, Gosling and Bianca

gosling clarkson garner


Lars and the Real Girl This film is about as quintessentially indie as it can be, with a quirky approach to a serious theme (plus Clarkson in a terrific side role). Cynics might find it precious, but open-hearted audiences will love it.

Shy 27-year-old Lars (Gosling) doesn't like contact with anyone. He's never recovered from his father's death (his mother died in childbirth), and his older brother Gus (Schneider) has never understood him, although Gus' pregnant wife Karin (Mortimer) is trying to reach out. Then Lars turns up with a new girlfriend, Bianca, who's a full-size doll. The family doctor (Clarkson) advises them to go along with the delusion to allow Lars to sort it out. And with everyone in their small Midwestern town cooperating, Bianca becomes much more than part of the furniture.

The astute script by Oliver (Six Feet Under) and sensitive direction from Gillespie (erm, Mr Woodcock) maintain a startlingly engaging tone even in the most outrageous scenes. Dialog is laced with jagged humour and underhanded insight, while the actors have space to develop their characters. Gosling is especially strong; we never for a moment doubt that Lars is completely lost inside this fantasy, which is clearly a troubled voyage out childhood. But Gosling avoids making Lars a mentally unstable geek by constantly us see his emotions.

Opposite him, Mortimer and Schneider get potent scenes of their own, while Clarkson offers a memorably sharp character who's full of surprises, and Garner is terrific as girl a who fancies him but hasn't a clue how to break through his neuroses. The filmmakers also somehow build Bianca into a strong character all her own, thanks to clever photography and editing.

By filling the story with hilarious dark comedy, the filmmakers draw us gently into Lars' experience, his own warped reality and its impact on the community. As the doctor observes, "Bianca is in town for a reason." And she's in this film to allow us an intriguing glimpse of real humanity, along with a light-handed look at such weighty themes as religious tolerance, mental illness, male-female issues and what it means to be a grown-up. By the end, we realise that we probably have a quirk even more ridiculous than Lars does.

cert 12 themes, innuendo 3.Dec.07

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Lars and the Real Girl Richard Fay, Rio Vista, CA: 4/5 "An earnest and well-done modern fable about love and acceptance. With clever writing, and an outstanding performance by Patricia Clarkson, as the therapist, this movie presents life as it should be, not how it is. For those emotionally open, this may be a delight. For those more closed or cynical, it may be difficult to watch. You know who you are. Or do you?" (30.Jun.08)
2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall