Sunday, December 27, 2009

Review: Lars and the Real Girl

One evening, Lars (Ryan Gosling), an emotionally troubled and isolated young man, introduces a girl to his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and his wife Karin (Emily Mortimer). To their horror, the girl turns out to be a life-size doll. Fearing Lars has gone completely insane, they consult the town doctor Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson). She asks the couple to go along with Lars's delusion that the doll, Bianca, is a real life person, as Lars needs her to cope with his inner struggles.

I wanted to love this movie, but I wasn't really feeling it. I can't really put my finger on it. I found the movie's way of having Lars deal with his emotional problems by enabling his delusions and dragging the entire town into his fantasy world questionable. *SPOILERS* In the end, Bianca dies. This is a sign that Lars doesn't need her anymore. It's a sign that he is getting better and that he wants to make a connection with a real life girl, the very adorable Margo (Kelli Garner). But that doesn't mean he doesn't have a long way to go. Yet the movie ends on a 'cute' note that Lars & Margo will get together and they all will live happily ever after. It doesn't work that way. Lars is still the guy who, for weeks (months?) had an entire town pretend his doll was a real person. Therapy is needed to deal with this and the dead mommy/depressed daddy issues. But I'm just a therapist, so what do I know? */SPOILERS*

Of course, the whole thing does make one quirky and enjoyable film. Gosling was perfect as Lars, proving once again that he is one of the finest actors of his generation. It was a brave performance and Gosling gave it his all, making sure the movie with the ridiculous premise didn't end up being just that: ridiculous. He made Lars lovable, which is quite an accomplishment.

However, I enjoyed Paul Schneider's performance as Lars's older brother better. Schneider is one of my favorite 'One To Watch' actors. I think he can really shine given the right material and I will always love his performance in Elizabethtown. In Elizabethtown, his character Jesse doesn't take life too seriously. In Lars and the Real Girl, Schneider plays the straight man to Gosling's disturbed Lars. It's a wonderful and subtle performance. You see how Schneider's Gus goes along with the craziness, but you can feel the guilt he feels and the pain of witnessing his baby brother's emotional problems.

Kelli Garner is a delight to watch as Margo, Lars's co-worker who has a crush on him. Emily Mortimer has never been a favorite of mine, but she did fine. I heard her accent slip, but it wasn't too annoying.

I was surprised the movie ended when it ended. I felt they could've done more to resolve the baby subplot. Have Karin go into labor and survive childbirth for example. Lars was freaking out about it halfway through the movie. I don't know why they left that hanging. Or does touching the belly means he's over it? Oh movie logic, I will never understand you.

I wonder how this movie holds up on a second viewing. Either I will gradually learn to love it through repeated viewings or I will be bored to death the second time. I do love Paul Schneider though... A 3,5/5.

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