Sunday, May 04, 2008

if the teddy bear resuscitation scene doesn't break your heart, you haven't got one

It was film night at Casa de la Zombie last night and one of my most highly anticipated films was on the menu - Lars and the Real Girl.
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.



Barb you honestly have the most eclectic taste in movies I've ever seen!

If you haven't seen the following I suggest you try them for your next Zombie Foreign movie night.

"The House of Sand", (2006 Brazil)(Blockbuster has this one in their foreign section)
"Tokyo Story", (1953 Japanese flick, on every must see movie list)available at library
"Kinky Boots" (2005, UK)also at Blockbuster

All very different, first has amazing never before seen footage of Brazil (no rainforest in sight)
Second is real peek in to Japanese life and culture. Made for Japanese market not for international release so quite stunning.
Third, heartwarming and a great brit flick. Loads of laughs.


(word verification for this was, ipucpee)
I'm such a juvenille!

Moxie said...

I will have to add this to my Netflix queue. I'm definitely up for more heartwarming tales. Thanks for the tip!

And thanks for the link, too!

Todd said...

I remember seeing posters for this movie when it first came out and I was somewhat intrigued by it. I am not a huge fan of Gosling, but maybe I just need to see him in the right role.

Thanks for the reminder about the movie - I'll have to track it down and see how I like it - and from your description, it seems like I will enjoy it quite a bit! :)

Toccata said...

Your title alone makes me want to see this film and before your review I had not. I had only heard, "It's about some guy who thinks his blow-up doll is real," and never gave it any thought.

Hey, you should be writing for the First Weekend Club. I'm not sure if that's the correct name but it's all about Canadian films.

Joe said...

I've wanted to see this movie for a while now, so thanks for the recommendation. The last Real Doll-related movie I saw was "Love Object" and that was just disturbing as hell.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Excellent! Thanks for the great film tips, UB! Kinky Boots is the only film I have heard of (and it's on my list), although I thought for a minute you were referring to the House of Sand and Fog, that Ben Kingsley film, but no. I shall be looking for these!
I'm a sucker for wv that brings out my inner 8 year old boy.

You're most welcome, Moxie. If it's heartwarming you are looking for, this is the film for you. Very sweet.

Todd, I've only ever seen Ryan Gosling in Half Nelson prior to this film, and he was really good in his role as the crack-addicted teacher. I'd love to hear what you think of this one.

I've not heard of First Weekend Club before, Toccata, I'll need to check them out. But yes, it certainly sounds like it could be a low brow sex comedy, but nothing could be further from reality.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I don't know Love Object, Bubs, but it sounds disturbing indeed. Trust me, you'll like this one much much more.

Deb said...

That film sounds perfect.

You'll be happy to know that my son has just purchased not one but TWO zombie books by Max Brooks. And Linds has had dreams? this week (I think they're nightmares) about slashing zombies with razor blades. Aren't you proud of us?

I miss my bike and plan on getting out there soon as well. But that is exercise and I'm just not quite into it at the moment...I'm "thinking" about it though. That's a start, right?

Dale said...

I remember Coaster Punchman telling me about this film and I saw it a while back. Your review does it justice Barbara. It's so sweet and perfect a film, sort of like this blog.

Allison said...

Again, one of those films that slipped off the radar but I'm glad to see it highlighted here. Must see if I can find it.

I am a Ryan Gosling fan, mainly because he seems (well at least so far) so choose interesting films instead of just the mainstream shite.

Hope your bike ride was enjoyable! :)

BeckEye said...

Hmm, cool. I'll have to put this in my Netflix queue. I didn't before because I had heard mixed reviews about this movie, but I trust your judgment!

(And if I hate it, I'll just pelt you with rocks.)

Sean Wraight said...

Great, great post!

It's amazing how some films have the ability to come out of nowhere to work their way into our collective hearts. Lars and the Real Girl is one of the best movies I have seen in years. Ryan Gosling surprised me in Half Nelson and he's done it again as Lars. Perhaps even moreso.

I like the fact too that you identified this as "a very Canadian film." That distinction was the very heart of its lasting appeal; At least for me. And to tell you the truth I'm still thinking about this film, days after seeing it.

One for the whole family, this film moved me beyond words and I totally did not expect it. The best kind of cinematic magic.


Gifted Typist said...

OK, BB are you trying to tell us something by reviewing that flick and then telling us about pumping up the bike tire - in the same post? ARe you obsessed with your bike tire?

Either way, the film sounds charming and I will put it on my list. Ditto Urban Blonde's pix.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Why the zombieness at your house, Deb? Not that I'm complaining or anything, but you guys seemed so normal.
I hope you get the urge to do your bike rides again soon, too. I think it might be really helpful in taking your mind off things. And I know how much you love your rides.

Awwwwww, Dale, you're pretty sweet and perfect yourself. Such a lovely film, isn't it? I want to see it again now.

The bike ride was shortened to just around the neighbourhood, Al, but I went really really fast and it was glorious. And then I did yardwork which was less than glorious.
I believe I have only seen Ryan Gosling in two films, both of which were stellar. I hope you can find Lars and the Real Girl. It's such a gem.

Fair enough, Beckeye, I fully expect to be pelted with rocks if this does not live up to the hype I have given it. Although I am a little frightened that you would trust my judgement. What does that say about you?

That's a lovely summary, Sean, and it's true that there was a real magic to this bit of film. I was completely surprised by how charmed I was. I was also surprised and impressed with Ryan Gosling's performance in Half Nelson, and even more here.
Plus he's from London! Yo, London represent!

Sadly, I am not obsessed with my bike tire enough, Gifted, since I didn't even ride it once last summer, I am ashamed to admit.
Different story this year, I swear.
Urban Blonde's picks do sound great too, don't they?

justacoolcat said...

Way to take out the bike! I did a little riding too, but only for errands.

P.S. I suspect I don't have a heart.

Anonymous said...

very Canadian film (filmed largely in my old sales territory of King Township and Uxbridge, Ontario)

I still remember when I first visited your blog 10yrs ago (you've been here that long, surely!)... you mentioned being from "London." Much to my embarassment, I thought you were talking England...

I still visualize you with a British accent. :D

Barbara Bruederlin said...

The teddy bear scene didn't do it for you, Just A?
I have no idea why I didn't ride my bike once last summer, but shall remedy that this year.

You're so cute, Michelle! I shall be sure to greet you with my best Cockney accent when we meet up this summer. Except it'll have to be Scottish, cause that's the only one I can do consistently.

Beth said...

I absolutely LOVED this movie. I fell head-over-heels for Lars during the teddy bear resuscitation scene. Brilliant review, Bad Tempered One.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Why, thank you, Beth. I think Lars melted many a heart with that teddy bear resuscitation. I wanted to marry him at that point.

Conky said...

i just watched this the other night and made me howl...Ryan G was fabulous and when it was over I was so glad it wasnt sexual at all...that would have ruined it nature of it...

good review!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You're right, Jen, sexuality would totally have ruined the film. They didn't muck it up at all.