Project 101

Dan attempts to watch 101 movies in 12 months

#9 Lars And The Real Girl

Posted by Dan on December 15, 2008

I remember when I saw Mysterious Skin a few years ago, when it was finished, I sat in the cinema chair completely silent through the credits, trying to gather my emotions. When I left the cinema, me and the two friends didn’t say a word until we were out on the street, and one of my friends said “I need a drink”, and we all nodded. It seriously fucked with us all, and it took me a while to work out whether or not I like it. It’s that sort of feeling that I live for in movies. As much as I love a good brainless comedy, or some cheap throw-away action film, I truly love a movie that fucks with my head.

Lars &  the Real Girl is one of these. I only finished watching it an hour or so ago, and I still don’t know how I feel about it. So really, this ‘review’ (a bit rich calling it that, but still) could go either way.

Lars & The Real Girl is a story of Lars (Ryan Gosling) living with the grief of the death of his parents. His mother died at birth, although I don’t think that they never really explained what happened to his dad. But now, Lars and his brother have inherited the family home.  His brother Gus lives in the house with his wife Karin, played wonderfully by Emily Mortimer. Lars chooses to live in the garage on his own. He’s a strange guy bordering on mental illness – he’s a shut-in with very little friends except for the guy he shares a cubicle with at work. It’s here that he’s shown the Real Doll website, and a few days later, Lars orders one.

Lars’ mental instability takes a new turn when Lars treats his new doll, Bianca, like a real person. Gus and Karin are delighted by the news that Lars has met a woman who he’s invited to dinner (at which Karin struggles each day to get him to share a meal with even just the two of them), but then things get awkward when Lars brings along Bianca. They send him to see their family GP (played by Patricia Clarkson), who also happens to be a pyschiatrist, who treats Lars under the guise of taking Bianca in to the practice each day for a check-up.

In an odd turn of events, the whole community decide to go along with Lars’ delusion, showing the great compassion that everyone has for Lars, and everyone in the community seems to draw something out of the situation for their own benefit. It’s a sweet tale that proves that it’s actually possible to love, without having to feel like it’s some kind of transaction, that it’s possible to simply love.

Now, there are bits of this movie that I loved, but others that I struggled with when it came to suspending my sense of disbelief. I can’t imagine a community, big or small, so openly accepting Lars’ delusion with such open arms. Whether or not Lars’ family was a “pillar of the community” type is never really explained. There isn’t a single person that seems to have openly hostile prejudices to the situation, which I find a little hard to believe. There’s really only one scene where Gus tries to tell Lars that Bianca isn’t real and is just a rubber doll, but even that only lasts a moment, and is largely ignored by Lars. Even the sweet Margo, who’s clearly had a crush on Lars since the dawn of time is patient and understanding when she realises that she’s been passed up for a rubber doll. She either has a stone for a heart, or is even more accepting than I give her credit for. I mean, shit, I’ve been knocked back by a girl for another guy before, but at least that guy was alive. I’m not sure I could take that kind of set-back.

If anything, I really related to the role of the brother, Gus and if anything, Gus really relates how I felt about the movie. I found Gus to be the main driver and a metaphor for the movie’s plot – at first, Gus was confused about what was going on and didn’t really understand it, so he became resentful and angered with Lars, hoping that he’d just “snap out of it”, but then, like everyone else in the movie, used the situation to explain his feelings and what happened in the past with his brother and finally tell him he was sorry, and in the end, even though he was still a little unsure about the life he and everyone around him was living, learned to become compassionate and understanding.

“Sometimes I get so lonely I forget what day it is, and how to spell my name”

I give Lars & The Real Girl 3 out of 5 Fleshlights

3 Responses to “#9 Lars And The Real Girl”

  1. Dee said

    Have you ever seen that doco that turns up on the SBS Friday night sex hour occasionally about the company that makes those dolls and the people who buy them? It’s very interesting, and even though it’s kind of weird, you don’t find yourself sitting there going, “Ew!” like you’d expect to.

  2. Dan said

    oooh, no?

  3. Dee said

    It’s called “Love Me, Love My Doll”. Worth seeing. SBS Friday night sex hour can be surprisingly interesting.

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