Wednesday, June 13, 2012

37/50x2: Lars and the Real Girl

I never understood how Ryan Gosling became such a great actor. In fact, I just did a quick look at his resume and I had seen a grand total of two of his films before before watching this one - Remember the Titans and Murder by Numbers. Believe me, I want to check out a handful of the others, but have not been able to yet.

So, with only those two films as my guide - and he was pretty good in both, just not megastar - I was really confused on where all the fuss was coming from. Then I watched Lars and the Real Girl.

Gosling stars as Lars Lindstrom, a man who is unable to interact with others very well and is pretty much socially awkward. He lives in a converted garage on his parents land that his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and his wife Karin (Emily Mortimer) now live in after the death of his father.

Despite constant tries to help with Lars' issues, Karin is turned down at almost every opportunity - and on the rare occasion that he may accept an invite for dinner, Lars is out of there as quickly as he can. He is a regular at a local church and has a job, where a co-worker Margo (Kelli Garner) has an obvious crush on him. But, he runs from any real interaction with anyone.

One day a co-worker shows Lars a website for lifelike dolls. And, for some reason Lars orders one and names her Bianca. He introduces her to his brother and sister-in-law as a friend. He talks to her as though she is real - concerned about his health Gus and Karin talk to Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) the family physician. They convince Lars to take Bianca in for a check-up, and while she 'rests' he talks to Dagmar.

Though it is obviously odd, because the town loves Lars so much they accept Bianca as one of their own. And soon Lars says she is his girlfriend - and Bianca actually begins to have a social life. Thanks to this, Lars also begins to interact more with the people in his town.

I will not spoil this movie for anyone. It was just amazing to watch and I loved every minute of it. There is a reason revealed in the film about why Lars has become the way he is and it truly makes sense. Though the doll is creepy, because it actually does look pretty darn real - Lars never uses it for its intended purpose. It is merely there as first a friend, then a girlfriend - and he treats it with respect.

Gosling was incredible in this role and I am now beginning to see just what all of the fuss is about. I realize that around the same time he was nominated for an Academy Award for his work on Half Nelson. He has become a talented actor and I can't wait to start digging into some of his other work.

The other actors were also great. I have only seen Garner in a few things, but I really like what she brings to the table. In some of the things Mortimer has been in she has sometimes annoyed me, but I liked her in this role. And, Schneider - I don't know I just really consider him a poor-man's John Krasinski. I think his role on Parks and Rec had a lot to do with that image - as he was probably brought in as the 'Jim' character. I just kept picturing Krasinski as the character here, and as good as Schneider was I felt Krasinski could have been better.

A touching and well written story. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you check it out.



  1. This one was OK. I'd suggest Crazy Stupid Love. I think it's something you might enjoy (and your wife), and Gosling is awesome in it. Of course, Drive is really good, but I'm not too sure if you'd like it or not. You might fight it too slow in the first half. Fracture is a lot of fun. Blue Valentine is really depressing, but he gives a great performance. And, of course... I will admit The Notebook is pretty good, too.

  2. I will be checking out all of those as soon as it fits into our schedules. I know my wife wants to see a handful of those as well. I wanted to see both Drive and Crazy Stupid Love in the theater - but I will definitely be watching both.

    My wife loves The Notebook - and it is in her part of my next 50 list. So, I will be checking that one out as well.