LARS AND THE REAL GIRL (Sony, 2008) D: Craig Gillespie, w/ Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer. Rating: NNN; DVD package: n/a
A good chunk of what makes Lars And The Real Girl work is the fact that it doesn’t quite work. Its premise, that an entire town would buy into a lonely guy’s delusion that his high-end fuck toy is a real girl, is so implausibly ludicrous that the willing suspension of disbelief just doesn’t happen. Every time some new situation arose, I found myself thinking, “This is where everybody bursts out laughing and chucks the doll in the lake.” But no.
This adds considerable suspense to a simple, slow story that otherwise depends on a single gag – the doll – repeated in various contexts, and on the acting.
Ryan Gosling, who is always good, is note-perfect as lonely Lars. With his tight little smile and rigid body, he walks a fine line between character and caricature. But it’s up to the others to sell the movie with credible naturalistic acting. Much of that load falls to Emily Mortimer as Lars’s pregnant sister-in-law, whose unforced compassion holds the whole movie together.
Without any extras, we’ll never get an answer to the all-important question: What were they thinking? There’s bound to be a special edition eventually. Everybody shoots extras these days.
You’ll find a big clue to the film-makers’ intentions in the movie’s worst flaw, the syrupy score. Director Craig Gillespie and company are selling uplift.
That’s fine. It gives us a likeable and memorably odd movie. Add a layer of darkness, though, and we’re a heartbeat away from some unholy offspring of Frankenstein and The Devils.
EXTRAS Widescreen. English, French audio. English subtitles.