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Friday, 11 April 2008

Lars and the Real Girl (2)

When 27 year-old Lars (Ryan Gosling) announces that he has a girlfriend, his brother (Paul Schneider) and pregnant sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer) are overjoyed and relieved. Finally this lonely misfit – a man who flinches from all physical touch – has found someone to love. They’re less happy when they actually meet ‘Bianca’, who turns out to be a life-size anatomically correct silicone sex doll bought off the internet. They consult the wise family doctor (Patricia Clarkson) who advises them to go along with the delusion.

Director Craig Gillespie and writer Nancy Oliver (Six Feet Under) have created a gentle and compassionate film that transcends its tacky premise. Perhaps it’s a bit cowardly of them to keep the romance ‘chaste’, but then this film is really about tolerance and tolerance, as we see the whole town working hard to make Lars happy inside his fantasy. Gosling gives a brilliant tightrope-walking performance. His journey towards wholeness is never overstated and always mysterious. It’s a measure of the film’s success that by its conclusion we’ve come to accept Bianca as a real girl who might just get up and walk away.

Rochelle Siemienowicz,

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