Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

This is a movie with an edgy premise that turns out to be rather conventional. Lars (Ryan Gosling) is an odd, withdrawn guy with Avoidant Personality Disorder. He lives in his brother’s garage, and can’t bring himself to socialize even with his family, although he is able to hold down a job. One day his porn-obsessed cubicle mate shows him a site with extremely realistic sex dolls, and six weeks later the UPS guy delivers Bianca, Lars’s new girlfriend.

Shocked at first, Lars’s family takes him to their wise, small-town doctor (Patricia Clarkson), who convinces them to go along with the delusion and give Lars a chance to work through his intimacy issues. Pretty soon the whole town is in on it, and it’s just a beautiful image of small-town America, where everybody knows everybody, and the people are so tolerant that they’ll prop a guy up while he debuts on the social scene with his plastic sex-surrogate girlfriend.

I get that this is a fairy tale and shouldn’t be judged on a literal basis. It would be great if folks were really this compassionate and open-minded. It would be great if all family docs were just doing medicine as a hobby and could afford to spend an hour or so every week with the same patient, talking around his problems. My beef with “Lars and the Real Girl” is that it is, frankly, trite. Everything is quite predictable, and the whole thing is just syrupy sweet.

One thing I did like about “Lars and the Real Girl” is the way it depicted moderately religious people. I’m not religious myself, but I’m sympathetic to the complaint that Hollywood acts as if Faith barely exists. In a matter of fact way, this film depicts its characters as having a church community as part of their everyday lives, which is how it is in much of the country. It isn’t preachy about this; I only mention it because it’s something you don’t see much in movies anymore. In gratitude, God should have helped them make this a better film.

2 stars out of 5

No comments: