Lars and the Real Girl is part romance, part comedy, all heartfelt
nicole syverson, bear facts entertainment writer
February 12, 2013
Along with candy hearts and boxes of chocolates, Valentine’s Day also brings the never-ending stream of romantic movies. Rather than repeating a lame love-themed DVD, why not fall in love with a romantic film filled with hot actors and a plastic doll?
Lars and the Real Girl is a heartfelt movie that not only makes Ryan Gosling appear socially awkward, but also transforms a plastic doll into a lovable character. Throughout the movie, the audience sees Gosling as the underdog instead of the smooth, witty man he usually portrays.
The movie revolves around Lars (Ryan Gosling), a sweet clean-cut boyish-man who is incredibly shy, and his brother, Gus (Paul Schneider), and Gus’s wife, Karin (Emily Mortimer). While Gus’s life flourishes with a loving wife and a child on the way, Lars lives in their garage and has trouble connecting with people around him.
This all changes when Lars meets Bianca, a beautiful and adventurous girl, who he meets on the internet and falls madly in love. There is only one problem with Bianca: she is a life-sized plastic doll. Lars fails to notice that she is not made of flesh and blood, and everyone around him is forced to play along and pretend that Bianca is a real person and treat her as such. Gosling admitted that even he started to feel like the plastic doll was a person.
“Yeah, [I] absolutely [got the sense she was a real person],” Gosling said to Entertainment Weekly. “When they called action it was just her and me. That bonded me to her, it was a real connection. And people will laugh when they hear it, but she has a really calming and peaceful quality when you’re around her. And you would have moments where you thought she looked at you, or said something to you, or moved.”
When Lars begins to notice an attractive co-worker, Margo, an unusual love triangle begins and Lars is torn between his devotion to Bianca and the spark he has with Margo. Throughout the movie, the family must overcome the obstacles and help Lars navigate through his journey to manhood.
“It’s really like a story book, it has a children’s-book innocence to it, yet it deals completely with adult themes. But the overall concept does sound nuts, doesn’t it?” Gosling said to The Telegraph. “My initial impression, when I first heard the idea, was that it was conceptually funny and unique, but I thought it was never going to hold up for a whole movie. But when I read the script, I realized I couldn’t be more wrong.”
Lars and the Real Girl won an Oscar nomination for Best Original screen play, and Gosling received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. The movie has a quirky sense of humor, but at the same time pulls some heartstrings. The audience sympathizes with and cheers on Lars through his awkwardness when he tries to connect with people and is charmed by his ever growing devotion to his plastic girlfriend.
One influential factor in this movie is the setting. It takes place in a small town, which creates an atmosphere that helps connect the audience to Lars and the people that surround him. In a place where everyone knows each other, they rally behind Lars and support his relationship with Bianca. The town’s support makes the audience view Lars as the underdog instead of the crazy man with a plastic girlfriend.
Another major highlight of the movie is Ryan Gosling. The same Gosling who was in Crazy, Stupid, Love. and is known for his cockiness and smoothness with the ladies, becomes a nervous, self-conscious, shy, emotional train wreck. He is both funny and sincere throughout the movie, never missing a beat and always having a straight face when talking about Bianca’s accomplishments and home life, and always honor-bound by the church and his devotion to his plastic doll. Even after the movie Gosling is still attached to the plastic doll.
“Bianca is very much like a teddy bear to me. She feels like a security blanket. My relationship with her is the same as a child’s relationship with their bear,” Gosling said in an interview with The Telegraph. “It is intimate and they love it, care for it and talk to it. If they ever lost the bear, it would be traumatic for them.”
The thing that makes this movie work is the love and compassion that all the characters have for one another, especially the devotion Lars has for Bianca. Lars treats his plastic girlfriend with gentleness and respect, showing the purest kind of love. This love is also shown through the town’s people who show their support by “hiring” her as a shop mannequin and making her part of the School Board. And most importantly, Lars’s family, Gus and Karin, love him and stand up for Lars no matter the circumstance. Whether it is giving Bianca a bath or changing her outfits every day and night, they never fail to make sure Bianca feels welcome.
Overall, any movie that deals with some kind of mental illness must tread the water very carefully in order to make the movie a hit. And Lars and the Real Girl did just that. The movie is very careful to have the audience laugh with Lars, not at him, and has the audience cheering for him as he begins to overcome his scarring childhood.
Lovable and funny, by the end of the movie, the audience can’t help but love Bianca, and see her as Lars’s “real girl,” making this a real romance for this Valentine’s Day.