Tuesday, April 01, 2008

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL - Don Quixote in Minnesota

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL is an improbably wonderful drama from the director of the piss-poor Billy Bob Thornton vehicle MR WOODCOCK. It's about a young man (Ryan Gosling) who deals with stress by inventing an imaginary girlfriend in the guise of a blow-up doll. The movie challenges us not to laugh but to empathise, and even to enjoy role-playing ourselves. The small-town community in which Lars lives is a proxy for the audience. We might start off like his elder brother (Paul Schneider) - thinking it ridiculous and hoping for a quick fix. Or maybe we start off like his sweet sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer), playing along, hoping he'll work it out. But pretty soon, we're like the old women at church, the work colleagues and the friends at the mall. It's fun to play dress up with a real life doll - to cut her hair - invent social outings: the whole town falls in love with "Bianca".

With LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, Craig Gillespie has done that rare thing: he's made a romantic comedy with substance; furthermore a film that feels as credible as it does incredible. He hints at how common delusion is with his reference to Dulcinea, but more widely he shows how far the whole community enjoys Lars' delusion. Ultimately this is a profoundly uplifting film - and not in the easy, saccharine manner of films like THE BUCKET LIST. It's a film about a bunch of people doing something a little bit silly because they love someone, and believe he'll work it out. And in a cynical, busy, impersonal world, that's a wonderful thought.

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL played Toronto 2007 and was released in the USA and Singapore last year. It opened in Hungary, Italy, Israel, Greece, Belgium, Norway and Germany earlier this year. It is currently on release in South Korea, Iceland, the UK and the Netherlands. It opens in Australia and Spain in April and in Japan in June.

1 comment:

  1. just saw Lars and the Real Girl, Gosling did a great job playing out his character's psychological transition from totally dysfunctional to somewhat functional; it was nice of them to leave out the predictable small-town drama as well