Lars and the Real Girl

DRAMA; 1hr 46min

STARRING: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider

Miss behaving: Gosling

On paper, the plot looks tricky, with a painfully shy young guy (Gosling as Lars) forming a chaste relationship with a sex doll he buys on the Net. Bianca isn’t just any old sex doll, though — she is a customised Real Doll, to whom Lars relates with the assurance and warmth markedly absent from his threadbare reality. Lars’s brother (Schneider) and sister-in-law (Mortimer) are convinced he has lost his mind. Their Midwestern town doctor (Patricia Clarkson) wisely advises them to go along with his delusion, however, while she figures it out.


Misgivings aside, the locals pitch in, too. In a tribute to their affection and concern for Lars, Bianca attends church, volunteers at the hospital and so on. This has its lighter side, and Gosling is vulnerable and lovable as the wounded introvert. But Lars and the Real Girl is neither a comedy nor a cheap shot. Six Feet Under writer Nancy Oliver’s screenplay, directed by Craig Gillespie, is alive with compassion as Lars slowly comes to terms with his life, touching those around him with his innocence and faith.