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Lars and the Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie - 2007)

Is there an actor with any more upside than Ryan Gosling? Here is a movie thats success totally hinges on the strength of its lead's performance. And Gosling is perfect. This character could have just been creepy or completely unlikable and the whole thing would have fallen apart. But instead, Gosling turns Lars into a remarkably relatable (albeit unusual) individual and we totally buy it. He's a painfully shy, lonely guy living in a small town where everyone seems to love as well as feel a little sorry for him. So when his paraplegic missionary girlfirend Bianca arrives, no one except maybe his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) has the heart to ask him why he's dating a life-sized, vinyl sex doll.

This sure sounds like the kind of high-concept "comedy" somebody like Rob Schneider would feel at home in, but it really isn't. I'd be hard pressed to name a film that better balances its more sentimental or depressing moments with such liberal doses of hilarity. Lars and the Real Girl is very, very funny when it needs to be, but it's also the most sincere movie I've seen in years.

All the ancillary performances, from Emily Mortimer's sympathetic sister in-law to Paul Schneider's flabbergasted brother, are dead on. But yeah, this is Ryan Gosling's movie. I've heard critics say he wasn't "real" enough and that the film is just trying to be as quirky as possible - holding no basis in reality. Well I don't necessarily think it needs to be realistic to be effective. For all its whimsy, Lars and the Real Girl is still a life-affirming, immensely positive, easily enjoyable and magnificently sweet movie that deserves to find an audience.

Swedish Rating: