Lars and the Real Girl has, on the surface, almost nothing that would interest me. It’s a movie directed by Craig Gillespie, who, according to IMDB has previously done nothing, although he also sat at the helm of Mr Woodcock, which I haven’t seen, but appeared to be your run of the mill bad dick-joke Billy Bob Thornton doing-it-for-the-paycheck kind of comedy. The screenplay was written by Nancy Oliver, who also wrote for Six Feet Under, which was a television program on HBO or Showtime or some premium channel that I’ve never owned. I’m sure it’s delightful, though.
The title character, Lars, is played by Ryan Gosling, who starred in The Notebook, which, again, I haven’t seen but it was based on a short novel too terrible to complete. Mama Thursday–a sucker for the sappy stuff, God bless her–loves the book. I can’t speak to whether she saw or enjoyed the film, however. Otherwise, Gosling has been in The United States of Leland (which looked enjoyable) and Murder by Numbers (which looked intolerable). I had no reason to expect much from Mr Gosling. Co-starring are Emily Mortimer (British, but only vaguely familiar), Paul Schneider (totally unfamiliar), Kelli Garner (almost totally unfamiliar), and Patricia Clarkson (excellent in Good Night and Good Luck). Oh, and a sex doll.
So, obviously, the only thing the movie had going for it, for me, was the excellent trailer. A movie featuring a sex doll as girlfriend would, normally, seem to act as a vehicle for a bevy of bad dick-jokes, which, as indicated before in regards to Mr Woodcock, are not my thing. The movie’s trailer had some heart, and humor, and character, and so to the theater we went to check it out.
Lars Lindstrom lives in his garage. He and his brother Gus (Schneider) inherited their northern Wisconsin house from their father when he died. Upon the inheritance, Gus and his wife Karin (Mortimer) move in, and Lars chooses to move into the garage, by himself. He keeps to himself, constantly, despite the efforts of Karin to get him involved in the house–inviting him to meals whenever she can intercept him on the way from his car to the garage door. Lars despises physical contact, and runs, literally runs, away from anyone who shows him any kind of warmth. He leaves the house only to go to church, and to work.
One day, Lars, unexpectedly, comes to the front door of the house, and tells both Gus and Karin that he has a visitor, and that this visitor, a girl, does not speak much English and is confined to a wheelchair, so if they could try to be considerate of all that, he’d appreciate it. Naturally, Gus and Karin, thinking that Lars had finally reached out to another human being, are stunned to find that a member of their family has entirely lost his mind.
Consulting the local doctor and psychologist, Dagmar (Clarkson), Gus and Karin learn that Lars has a delusion, and that he has this delusion as a way for his mind to work out some kind of problem. The only thing they can really do for Lars, is to help him by going along with the delusion. And so, they do so, and they get the entire town to help.
I really adored this movie. There is definite drama and humor, but there are no villains, and no wacky Will Ferrell/Jack Black types popping up. In that sense, the movie reminds me of real life. However, the tightknit community that helps Lars out, that, to me, is less like the way the world really is, and more like the way the world should be. And that’s what this movie is about.