Review Recollection: 'Lars and the Real Girl' (2007)

Updated on June 25, 2018
ChrisSawin profile image

Chris is a Houston Film Critics Society Member and a contributor at God Hates Geeks, Slickster Magazine, and What Culture.

The official Blu-ray cover for, "Lars and the Real Girl."
The official Blu-ray cover for, "Lars and the Real Girl."

Artificial Can Be More Genuine Than Reality

Writer Nancy Oliver (Six Feet Under, True Blood) wrote the script for Lars and the Real Girl in 2002 after stumbling onto the website RealDoll.com. Directed by Craig Gillespie (the 2011 Fright Night remake, I, Tonya), Lars and the Real Girl is a much more tender and thoughtful comedic drama than you may be expecting. Ryan Gosling portrays Lars Lindstrom; a socially awkward yet decent guy. His brother, Gus (Paul Schneider, The Flowers of War), and his wife, Karen (Emily Mortimer, Transsiberian), worry about him since he spends so much time alone.

Lars not only has a shy and stand-offish demeanor he also tends to avoid people and social interactions altogether. If a woman happens to speak to him, Lars is incapable of responding. Physical contact from anyone seems to physically hurt Lars, but that doesn’t stop his friends and family from encouraging him to get a girlfriend. One fateful day, Lars is shown a peculiar website by a co-worker that sells love dolls. Although Lars is reluctant at first, he eventually warms up to the idea of a love doll as his companion. Bianca soon becomes an especially important part of Lars’ life and her presence not only changes Lars, but the town that he lives in for the better.

It took nearly a year to finally see Lars and the Real Girl after its theatrical release; a statistic that seems like a luxury ten years later when seeing and promoting new releases seems to lose steam after its opening weekend. The concept for Lars and the Real Girl is a strange one. A sex doll tagging along with an extreme introvert doesn’t sound all that appealing at first, but Lars is easy to understand as a character especially if you’re an introvert yourself or have had trouble with the opposite sex at some point in your life. Dating was always this massive hurdle that only seemed to expand and grow with each failed first date or cancellation. With those experiences and that mentality where you find yourself retreating into your own constructed sanctuary, Lars is strangely easy to relate to.

It’s not that Ryan Gosling hasn’t been a part of big budget films, but Lars and the Real Girl was released at a time in his career when he was catering more towards the independent side of things. This is pre-Drive yet post-Notebook Ryan Gosling here; films like Half Nelson and Blue Valentine solidified how talented Gosling is as an actor without all the bells and whistles of a huge cast or blockbuster film. Lars and the Real Girl is the film that made a lot of people realize that Gosling was more than a teenage heartthrob and former Mouseketeer.

Bianca and Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) in, "Lars and the Real Girl."
Bianca and Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) in, "Lars and the Real Girl."

Gosling fits the Lars Lindstrom role perfectly as he’s capable of portraying quirks that are as awkward as they are charming. How he’s able to talk to a doll for over an hour and not only make it believable, but also entertaining is incredibly impressive. Part of that is attributed to Bianca being treated like an actual person with her own trailer, getting dressed in private, and only being on set when she was in the scene, but Gosling also contributed quite a bit as well. Gosling improvised the CPR on Margo’s teddy bear sequence and the scene before he and Bianca enter the party.

The film fits that independent film mold a bit too well as it has humor that’s funny but not laugh out loud funny and is dramatic and heartfelt enough to make you invested in something you likely never would without the context of the film. The film shares elements from films like Her, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Lost in Translation; that sensation of being lost in what is considered to be normal society but finding something unorthodox that makes you belong and feel comfortable and whole. There’s this overwhelming sense of charm and sentimentality that can only be found in films like this.

Paul Schneider, Emily Mortimer, Ryan Gosling, and Bianca in, "Lars and the Real Girl."
Paul Schneider, Emily Mortimer, Ryan Gosling, and Bianca in, "Lars and the Real Girl."

Lars and the Real Girl is a comedic drama that relies on awkward situations or even one rare occurrence that triggers unusual peculiarities as it focuses on people’s reactions to these situations that occur. It’s worth seeing if you’ve ever felt like an outcast and to witness Lars’ odd behavior and the snowball effect that it causes. Introverts will likely enjoy it more than the average film lover, but Lars and the Real Girl takes something that seems taboo on the surface and molds it into this genuine motion picture experience that is strangely beautiful.

Lars and the Real Girl is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Google Play, and Vudu for $2.99 and iTunes for $3.99. It’s also available to stream for free on Amazon Prime if you have Starz with Prime Video channels. The DVD is $8.51 and the Multi-Format Blu-ray is $7.68 on Amazon. On eBay, the DVD is $7.98 and the Blu-ray is $7.95 (or best offer) while both are in brand new condition and both have free shipping.

Lars (Ryan Gosling) reads Don Quixote to Bianca in, "Lars and the Real Girl."
Lars (Ryan Gosling) reads Don Quixote to Bianca in, "Lars and the Real Girl."
4 stars for Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Chris Sawin

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      • DS Dollman profile image

        Darla Sue Dollman 

        7 weeks ago from Greeley, Colorado

        Interesting film. I wasn't sure I liked it at first, then I loved it. To me, there is little comedy. I picked up on the painful issues from the start. I just hurt for Lars. From the beginning of his "relationship" I sensed that there was something going on with Lars that he was unable to communicate to others, something so deep inside of him that he needed a surrogate to help express the pain. It made me think of how psychologists will often use dolls or toys to help children talk about painful events.

        I never saw her as a sex doll, but as a tool (not sure if that's the right word) that Lars needs in order to express these emotions that are trapped inside of that "ball in the throat" we all feel just before bursting into tears.

        To me, this is an amazing work of art that has not received the recognition it deserves.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://reelrundown.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)