Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. I know they’ve been testing this one frequently in the last few weeks, so I’m not surprised to see another review show up. I’m curious about this one. It’s got a great title, and even if it does sound like a plot I’ve seen before (track down LOVE OBJECT, a great little film that covers similar ground), Ryan Gosling alone is enough to get me into the theater. He’s always been a strong presence onscreen, and right now, he seems to be hitting his stride. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a review from “The Nixer”:
Hi Harry, Long time listener, first time caller. I’ve been a fan of your site for over a decade now, and I’ve been in LA for four years. I regularly get emails from the test screening company inviting me to showings, and whenever I can, I go. I’ve seen a wide range of films for free over the last 4 years. Some good (Knocked Up is hilarious) some unspeakably shit (Skeleton Key and Cursed add up to three hours of my life I could spent slowly ripping off my toenails and dancing in vinegar..aka having a better time). Anyways, over this entire period I’ve never seen a film that has been so damn good that I’ve wanted to write to you to help spread the word. Until now. A couple of days ago I caught a screening of ‘Lars and the Real Girl’, starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Mortimer. The basic premise is this: Lars (Ryan Gosling) is unable to have a real relationship. Painfully shy and withdrawn, he keeps himself to himself and the outside world outside. Friends and family are worried about him, but nobody can get him to communicate. At one point his sister in law (Mortimer) has to physically force him to agree to have dinner with them (he lives next to them in their converted garage), and the resulting scene is a painfully stilted affair. Then, out of the blue, Lars announces that he’s met someone.. The family are elated. He asks to take his new lady for dinner with his brother and wife, which they excitedly agree to. And so he does. Except his new woman, who he’s clearly smitten with, is not a human being. She’s a sex doll. Now here’s the thing. Having read the synopsis of this film, I grudgingly went along because, you know..it was a free screening and Ryan Gosling’s a great actor, I’m Scottish and I love Emily Mortimer, and it was written by one of the Six Feet Under writers. But in all honesty I expected it to be some sort of misjudged sex caper, some kind of trashy blend of Weekend at Bernies and Mannequin or something. I was so, so wrong... Lars and The Real Girl takes a bizarre concept and turns it into one of the most touching, heartwarming and endearing films I’ve ever seen. In fact, I think the term we coined that day was ‘heartwarmady’, although this makes such a well crafted film sound overly twee. The beautiful twist in this film is that despite being extremely concerned about his delusional behaviour, Lars' family realise that he will benefit from their care and support more than being sent to the loony bin. Under the gentle guidance of the local doctor (Patricia Clarkson), Lars and his new lady are accepted into the thoroughly bemused community, and they realise that with the love of his doll by his side, Lars finds the courage to open up to those around him. It’s a film featuring good people who love Lars who have more integrity than to simply point and laugh at him and this sentiment is echoed throughout the elegant script..Lars is never the subject of cheap cracks, but instead is allowed a composed dignity throughout the film and it's remarkably touching as a result. It should be filed right alongside The Straight Story (and..Mystery Alaska?) as a shining example of movie optimism, where the good people help each other get along. And it is so rare these days, it’s criminal. Believe me, I’m as cynical as the next guy and it takes a lot for a film to get me on it’s side..but this did it and then some..can you tell? It’s also quite hard to do this movie justice, as it’s too easy for me to use cliché’d phrases (eg the doll represents 'his cry for help') to describe a film which sidesteps the usual clichés at every juncture. I don’t want to spoil anything because half of the fun (yes..fun!) was watching the story unfold before me, but if you take all the scenes you’d expect in a film regarding mental illness, unrequieted love and ‘the town weirdo’..then throw them away and replace them with scenes all the more engaging, original and downright heartfelt then you’re someway on your way. There’s one scene that involves a teddy bear suicide that’ll break-then-melt your heart and have you bursting out laughing within 3 minutes thanks equally to the dialogue and performance. Now, you may well be reading this thinking it sounds boring as all hell, but I assure you it’s nothing like it. The performances are uniformally great, but Ryan Gosling will keep you captivated the whole time. (Once you get over his uncanny resemblance to David Arquette here – and not cool as hell ‘Roadracers’ David Arquette (when will Roadracers get a DVD release by the way??!) but the chubbier moustachio’d David Arquette. Gosling definitely piled on the pounds for this one and it works. He rightly deserves every accolade he gets for this role (and believe me, he’ll get a heap). But again, all the performances great - believable, well judged and endearing from start to finish. Lars’ brother and his work colleagues (especially a girl with an interest in him) are excellently cast - there’s not a weak link on display. I have no idea who’s releasing this film, or when it’s due out, and there doesn’t seem to be much about it on the net, but I’d urge you all to take a minute to remember it’s name and go see it when you can. I know this is no doubt a rambling mess – I’m not used to writing film reviews, but then again I’m not used to seeing such surprisingly affecting films at my local multiplex.. You can call me The Nixer! PS - I know what you’re thinking, if I read a review like this, I’d think I was a plant too. And a little bit drunk. I can assure you I’m not a plant..