Saturday, August 13, 2011



Lars and the Real Girl’ is a perfect sex-satire. It has good measure of wit, and yet stands apart with its sweetness. It’s a comedy film that’s never insecure to harbor the necessity to laugh at itself. In a time where films usually shy away from (inevitable) mental and emotional retardation, this film, its writer and its lead actor come out stark-naked with their intentions and are brave in doing so. And with her efforts, Nancy Oliver castrates the viewer, lifting us to such drastic levels of innocence that no other film or writer has ever accomplished before. There are so many little questions that one would have wanted to ask which would have been wiped out in the course of the film – magically extinguished in its ‘Little Prince’ charm. It’s a rare accomplishment by an even rarer film.

Gus and Karen Lindstrom (Paul Schneider and Emily Mortimer) are an everyday couple pregnant with their first child. The man is an embodiment of typical, snarky narrowness, the woman – of the wild-eyed eagerness of an expecting mother. She likes to act like one already, finding apt candidature in her brother-in-law Lars (Ryan Gosling) who seems to be a little down on the ladder of mental growth. He looks like a big Teddy Bear and has the mind of a child with gentleness to match. He is not beyond intelligence, though. He carries himself fairly well, earns his own living working as a clerk and knows enough about the internet to order online. In other words, he’s yet to come to terms with the world outside despite the fact that he’s ready for it.

There are (ideally) two ways for the film to accomplish this feat, both pushing hard on the borders of believability. One would be for Lars to drop his defences. The other would mean the same about the world around him, in this case being a small, snow-covered, parish-sort of a town. And Nancy Oliver, consistent with a mother’s kindness and sensitivity, takes the more improbable, exhaustive route, giving the viewer the uncanny pleasure of having experienced something truly ‘one of a kind’.

Everyone owes it to Lars (including Gus, who pleads guilty for abandoning him his childhood, the reason behind his ‘condition’). Everyone does everything they can do to help rehabilitate him. He’s lovable, he’s everything that’s good about being human. Wouldn’t you do the same to the one person who could help you believe that there is a future in being utterly and mindlessly kind? Our town convenes, we have a meeting with the Reverend and other respected men and women where they decide they’d do their best to assist. They would just have to ‘play along’ with Lars’ sincerity, and they don’t find it too hard. One cannot say the same about the younger generation, though. They can’t seem to get past the fact that Bianca is a sex-doll. Even Margo (Kelli Garner) who has a crush on him for a good part of the film, decides otherwise. She’s taught her lesson in due course. So is Gus Lindstrom. Their rationale stands out of a premise that works to linearize every single character towards finding their Samaritan self. They’re thorns amidst flowers, but they blossom into acceptance – inspired by the kindness personified in Karen and the lot.

Patricia Clarkson as Dagmar, Lars’ (or Bianca’s) therapist, is amazing. She’s one of the most learned people in town, as well as the most experienced actress amongst the whole cast – her performance lives up to both majestically. Ryan Gosling is 27 years old, but he doesn’t look like it; he doesn’t behave like it. I refer to both actor as well as his character in this context – you’d understand if you watched the film. And I don’t even have to tell you about Nancy Oliver. Building on a concept that could swing both ways, she serves to keep it straight out of sheer sincerity, backed by Australian director Craig Gillespie (of ‘Mr. Woodcock’ fame). Overwhelmingly kind-hearted and never short of wit, ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ is an abundance of chuckles on top of a perpetual smile. And I didn’t feel touched by the ending – I felt happy about it. It was like I was part of the effort resulting in consequential relief: I applauded. It’s a good film, an even better story and a great experience. I was glad I was involved.

(This is my second review of the film. The first had me trying to play 'smart' and unscathed. With this review, I admit I'm impressed; that I loved it)

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