I watched Lars and The Real Girl late the other night, and while I remember being entertained at certain points in the film, when it was all over nothing really changed for me. I actually had to go back to look at a few things because I had already forgot them. Therefore I am honestly left with not a whole lot to say about the movie. It started a little too quirky for it’s own good, but that seems to be the new in “indie” thing, quirky characters that you can’t help but love because, well, you just feel sorry for them. I found myself feeling nothing for Lars (played aptly by Ryan Gosling).
Cutesy quirkiness aside, one of my other major problems with the film was just how structured it was. For a film that is dealing with, on some small level, fetish acceptance, and more obviously contemplative outsider characters, the camera never really gave anyone the chance of development. The camera never just lingered for a few seconds after the action of the plot took place to watch the characters struggle with a situation or just go about their daily routines. You saw the action and then there was a cut to the next moment that would move the awkwardly devised plot forward. There was only one brief scene in which the camera seemed to loosen up, and where the movie felt actually human to me, and this was the bowling scene. Characters were left to react to the game and each other, and it flowed freely around the space, bringing the characters to life for once. Unless young director Craig Gillespe had every intention of making the film as lifeless and still as Bianca, (the sex doll with a heart of gold played elegantly by a sex doll with a heart of plastic) in which he would have been greatly successful, the movie just floundered and flopped like a dieing fish, and fell apart completely at the end when the town experienced an It’s A Beautiful Life moment and all came out to support Lars in his time of need.
After thinking about it for a little while though, there were actually two ways this film could have been good…but I think these theories are a stretch.
THEORY 1: Lars is actually kind of a funny asshole and just pulled the greatest prank ever on the people around him:
After being completely fed up with everyone in town telling him that he is weird and introverted and trying to force his hand into some relationship to stand up to the “norms,” Lars cracks and decides to make everyone in his town feel just as silly as they make him feel. Therefore he goes out and buys a sex doll, convinces the local medical doctor/convenient-therapist that he is delusional and that the only way to make it go away is to force the rest of the town to go along with it, and then laughs every step of the way as every person in town acts like a complete asshole when they give the anatomically correct Bianca a job, invite her to parties (without Lars), and actually vote her onto the school board (I am not kidding about these by the way, this shit actually happens).
THEORY 2: The film is actually a send up of the monotony of Hollywood story conventions:
Although this theory is a little more plausible, it is still kind of ridiculous. If Bianca was actually a stand-in for the basic female role in Hollywood films, and her existence was a comment on how it doesn’t really matter if the girl is there or not, the story tropes we are used to can still be played out just as we expect and we’ll roll with it, then this film would be marginally better. Of course this would mean that the overall meaning was that the female character in any movie is just an objectified stand-in, just a good set of tits and a working vagina, and that Hollywood can just replace them with dolls and we will still be invested in it anyways. I am in no way a feminist, in fact a lot of the time hardcore feminists really annoy me, but the fact that Gillespe manages to make his movie work with the doll in the roll, and that you would really have to read into this movie to see this as the overall meaning of the film, and also the fact that there is no other feminist portions of the film, or really strong female characters, makes me think this wasn’t the truth behind the movie when all is said and done.
Also, the soundtrack was quite reminiscent of Jon Brion’s score in Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind, and the fact that they kept using that same piece of music over and over again, really bugged me and made me think that Gillespe was trying to make someone else’s movie masked in some of his poorly fleshed out ideas.
Even though this has been mostly negative, the film was still watchable and entertaining and Ryan Gosling and Emily Mortimer were quite good in their respective roles. Overall I would give the film a 4.9/10. Almost reached the 5, but not quite there.
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