No one's really been talking about it, but Lars and the Real Girl is one of the best movies of the year. Funny and sad almost simultaneously, the movie stars Ryan Gosling as a young, socially awkward man who falls in love with a woman - a fake woman. Saddening and powerful due to the psychological elements involved, yet downright funny at times for the exact same reason, Lars and the Real Girl is the under-the-radar Oscar contender of the year.
Will Lars and the Real Girl receive serious Oscar attention? Probably not, but it does have Golden Globe potential. Gosling is great in the lead, proving once again he can do just about anything. Whether he's playing a Jewish Neo-Nazi, a teenage murderer, a sleazy teacher, a poor lover or now, a delusional yet likable nutcase, he seems to slide into his characters with minimal effort. While his performance here might not blow anyone away, he is exceptional in a very subtle, understated way. Props also go to the supporting cast, who all meld with their characters very well. Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider are terrific and really create the comedic tension that makes Lars work so well. Kelli Garner is also good in a smaller role.
It's a great relief that all the pieces work in synergy, because Lars is one of those movies that could have easily gotten away from the director. Without the right balance, it would have been a cheesy comedy or a depressing drama about a man who has gone crazy, but it has the perfect balance. Thanks to Mortimer and Schneider, the movie has plenty of laughs, and director Craig Gillespie develops a fun, touching and heartwarming comedy drama. For a movie about a man who falls in love with what is essentially a sex doll, Lars and the Real Girl is one of the more realistic romances, even though the romance is in some ways such a small part of the story. Cute and irresistible, Lars has the power of an awards contender but the entertainment of an every day comedy. You can't top that!
I've seen a lot of great movies over the last few months, but something about Lars and the Real Girl just struck me the right way. It's a wonderful film with terrific acting, a great screenplay and pure entertainment value.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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