Lars and the Real Girl

This movie is a hilarious but touching comedy that takes a very unusual but real situation and treats it with charm and respect. The comedy comes out of the fact that everyone is stunned by the strangeness of what is happening, but they never play it for laughs. The situation is always treated as realistically as possible. It’s a disarmingly moving gem that hits all the right notes and will steal your heart.

Lars and the Real Girl (2007) is about an introverted, sensitive man battling his fear of people and human contact. To get over this, he buys a plastic female sex doll on the internet and has a relationship with it as if she were real. His family and the rest of the small town they live in find this behavior odd to say the least but try to help him with comic and charming results.  There are natural funny moments in the film, but it’s all played with sincerity because the problem Lars has is quite debilitating. 

The central character of Lars, who tries to keep himself isolated, is played by Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, who grew up in Cornwall, Ontario and is currently the 'it guy' for leading man roles with recent hits like Drive (2011), The Ides of March, (2011), Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011), Blue Valentine (2010) Half-Nelson (2006) and The Notebook (2004) and in this movie you can see why his appeal is so infectious.

He has one of those very special faces that are mostly expressionless and neutral onto which the audience can easily project their emotions. To explain what I mean by this, I will compare him to another actor and a character that also possess this unique ability. One of which is the great silent era comedian Buster Keaton, who was nicknamed ‘the great stone face’ for his hilarious deadpan and blank looking expressions in the most audacious situations. All the comedy and expression comes from his body language. 

A character for whom this is also true is C-3PO from the Star Wars saga. He is a robot with a blank, expressionless, neutral face and we project our emotions on him according to the situations he finds himself in and his physical body movements. There is an amazing example of this in a scene from the first Star Wars movie A New Hope (1977) where Luke Skywalker is being consoled by princess Leia after the death of Obi-wan Kenobi. Sitting opposite him is the robot C-3PO with his head downcast in sadness. The robot has no expression on his face but he looks so sad simply because of the situation and his body language. 

This is of course not the only reason for Ryan’s recent success as an ‘in demand’ actor; he is obviously very dedicated and great at what he does and this movie is an indication of just how talented he is. Ryan will also be starring in the long awaited remake of Logan’s Run (1976) which is scheduled for release sometime in 2014 and starts shooting before the end of this year.

If you want to see what all the fuss is about, catch him in this excellent and one of my favorite films, Lars and the Real Girl, which is available on DVD, and then watch some of his more recent films currently in cinemas like the political drama The Ides of March and the crime drama Drive, where he puts his signature stoic stone face to effective use. 



TCoop said...

I also loved this movie, but was a little surprised with the C3PO comparison. That was interesting, to say the least. I think one point to touch on with the theme of the movie was in order for Lars to get over his shyness to ask out the female lead, he needed "Bianca" to overcome that fear, and everyone in town loved him enough to go through the motions. That to me, was touching.

Tegan said...

Sounds like a fun movie. I'll look out for it if it ever graces our shores (Australia).

wizardofwords said...

Love the look of your blog, John, and the fact that you combine old and new films in your review roster.

Well done!
Doreen Pendgracs

Anonymous said...

Sounds weird, maybe even too weird for me, but if I were stuck somewhere I just might watch it thanks to you.

Michael Charney said...

I found this movie interesting and engaging, puzzling and upsetting and, ultimately, uplifting. For me the comparison was Being There, most likely because the story is less about the main character and more about the reactions, beliefs, prejudices and behaviors of those around him. Really fine films, both of them.

JP said...

Yes absolutely, I agree. Much of the comedy comes from the way that people around Lars react. I didn't want to give too much of the story away for those who haven't seen it but your right that is what made it interesting and touching. Great comment and thanks for suggesting Being There. I've heard excellent things about it.

Shiran said...

A nice little movie. I saw it last night. It would be nice to live in such a nice small town with supportive townsfolk. It has the look or feel of a small Minnesota town. A good review, but did not see the C3PO reference coming :)

Rosy Prose said...

I love Gossling. Just was Ides of March. I never saw "Lars" but I'll get the DVD and check it out. I'm a movie addict, love your blog, and I'll check back regularyly.