It would have been so easy for Lars and the Real Girl to go for the big cheap laughs, to give it the Family Guy treatment. It is, after all, a film about a man who falls in love with a sex doll. But Lars and the Real Girl is probably the sweetest, most heartfelt and most quietly humourous film I have seen in a long time. And the film deals with mental health issues in a surprisingly thoughtful and subtle way. For such a seemingly sweet simple film, it is really rather layered with all the complexity of human nature.
Ryan Gosling is simply perfect as Lars, a painfully introverted man who develops a delusion that the rubber doll he has ordered off the internet is human. He treats her with such sweetness and tenderness and inroduces her around with such shy pride that I started believing, if not that she was real, then how he came to believe that she was.
When Lars stuns his brother and sister-in-law by introducing them to Bianca and asking if she can stay at their house (as it would not be appropriate for her to stay with him), it sets off a charade that spreads through the town. The people in this small town have always been highly protective of Lars, the lonely but kind-hearted lad whose mother died in childbirth, trying to set him up with the new girl at work, inviting him over for meals. The way in which they not only accept Bianca and rally behind Lars in his delusions, but indeed make Bianca a valued member of the community is absolutely lovely and life-affirming.
This is a very funny film , but the humour is understated and comes in quiet little touches. Almost stealing the film is Lars' wardrobe - the bulky moose vs moose type of sweaters, the 70's two-tone winter jacket, the touque - actually everybody in town dresses similarily. There are members of the Zombie household who maintain that they had a more difficult time suspending their disbelief over Lars' moustache than they did over the anthropomorphism of the sex doll, but that family member must remember that I have a brother who sported a moustache very similar to that for years. I can fully accept the possibility of such a thing existing.
Although this is a very Canadian film (filmed largely in my old sales territory of King Township and Uxbridge, Ontario), and the characters may dress rather like hosers, this is not a Bob and Doug McKenzie portrayal of small town Canada. The people in this film are not caricatures, they are fully-fleshed out and complex people, who have an enormous capacity for compassion, oddly enough, even the sex doll, Bianca.
I'll remember Lars and the Real Girl very fondly for a long time.-#-
And to celebrate life, I am hauling my bike out of the garage today, pumping up the flat tires, and taking it for a spin through Fish Creek park. But I am going to walk the killer hill.
Have a fabulous Sunday, all.