5 June 2008

Lars and the Real Girl (4/5)

[ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]

I was very lukewarm about seeing this. The reviews I had seen were good enough, but the premise sounded to preciously quirky to produce anything more than a diversion on cable some weekend afternoon. The movie is about a lonely guy in a small town who orders a Real Girl (aka Realdoll) and then proceeds to show her off as his fiance, all the while getting in conversations with her and signing her up for social events.

It's easy to make the sad-sack loner too pitiful, but I think that Ryan Gosling pulls it off with oddity more human than put on. His character and those of his brother and sister-in-law only slowly reveal a history you can sense from the beginning but aren't immediately privy to. Gosling's desperate attempts to just be left alone paired with his sister-in-law's increasing attempts to not allow him an out is a more central and satisfying dynamic in the picture. The other is Patricial Clarkson's deft role as GP/psychiatrist. She showed calm acceptance but also pushed him when he needed it.

The only issue I had with the film is its extreme gentleness in how small towns treat their eccentrics. There was one Absolute Disapproval (based on religion), but no kids mocking him in the street, no real morality outcry, no eww-it's-a-sex-doll. I felt the dramatic tension waiting for those events, but the absence made the movie--if I dare say this about a movie about a man engaged to a doll--less realistic. Still, it was a sweet, emotive story in the same spectrum as Eternal Sunshine.

[ posted by sstrader on 5 June 2008 at 10:23:47 AM in Cinema ]