Top positive review
60 people found this helpful
on 21 June 2008
The premise sounds a trifle creepy, but in practise it's beautiful. A man so shy he is virtually a recluse, so shy contact with others physically hurts him, orders a "real doll" and develops a relationship with it. The automatic assumption being he buys it in order to have sex with, but hat couldn't be further from his mind. Lars (Gosling) has the innocence of a child, and the kindness of one, along with the social acumen of one, and through Bianca (Doll) he learns to deal with people and to conquer his self-imposed loneliness; he uses the doll to exorcise all his social demons and fears. He was a man being suffocated by his own fear and pathology and his relationship with the doll isn't sexual or weird: it's catharsis.
He lives in a small town, where the minds should be just as small. But it's a social idyll, and it's a joy to watch. The entire town take Bianca under their wing. It's a process, naturally. Their initial reactions range from derision to horror, but the goodness of Lars is matched in the goodness of the town-folk. Their kindness and acceptance allows Lars the time he needs to heal himself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. We see him evolve from scared child unable to be with people to grown man who is ready for a real relationship.
Gosling's performance is beautifully understated. It has depth, nuance and genuine pathos. You'll grow to care for him very much, and when he suffers, you'll suffer with him. Another actor who deserves a nod is Patricia Clarkson as Doctor Dagmar. Her warmth and integrity make you want to lean on her shoulder and open your soul. Next to Bianca and Lars' brother and sister-in-law, Dagmar is the person who is most important in Lars' getting well. Her role is pivotal, and Clarkson's performance is wonderful.
People who require big final twists in their films will find this desperately ploddy and slow. This was never going to be a Hollywood blockbuster. It's a beautifully observed, and psychologically fascinating, homage to the nature of humanity, and to the fundamental goodness in us. There isn't a single dirty joke; no semen being spat into drinks; no having sex with puddings and no smutty allusions as to what's under Bianca's dress.
Lars and the Real Girl is gentle, warm and utterly, utterly charming.