'Lars and the Real Girl' Heralds Friendship

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Lars and the Real Girl, about a loner who finds companionship with a life-sized anatomically correct doll, is capable of sweeping you off your feet. It's a tribute to the joys of friendship and community, but it's constructed around one of the most salacious items modern culture provides.


Here's the rather odd premise for the new movie "Lars and the Real Girl," a loner finds companionship with a life-sized doll. Oscar-nominated actor Ryan Gosling is known for his unusual roles. This one is no exception.

Los Angeles Times and MORNING EDITION film critic - Kenneth Turan has our review.

KENNETH TURAN: "Lars and the Real Girl" will sweep you off your feet if you're not careful. It's a Frank Capra-style tribute to the joys of friendship and community, but it's constructed around one of the most salacious items modern culture provides.

Lars has the disposition of a grown-up choirboy, but he's also pathologically shy, terrified at even the thought of human contact. He's introduced to what he does best, hiding from other people.

(Soundbite of doorbell)

TURAN: One night, though, Lars knocks at his married brother's door to introduce a friend.

(Soundbite of movie, "Lars and the Real Girl")

Mr. RYAN GOSLING (Actor): (As Lars) I have a visitor.

TURAN: She's not what any one expected. This is beyond Bianca, he says, introducing a fully dressed life-sized silicon doll. She's not from here.

(Soundbite of movie, "Lars and the Real Girl")

Mr. PAUL SCHNEIDER (Actor): (As Gus) Wow, what do know? Did - where did you meet this person?

Mr. GOSLING: (As Lars) On the Internet.

Ms. EMILY MORTIMER (Actress): (As Karin) You know, everybody is doing that now.

Mr. GOSLING: (As Lars) She doesn't speak much English though.

Ms. MORTIMER: (As Karen) Uh-huh.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (As Gus) It's okay. It's really a thing with the guys at work. It's not that bigger deal.

Mr. GOSLING: (As Lars) Okay.

(Soundbite of music)

DURAN: Lars treat Bianca like actual person. They have conversations only he can hear. He's not thinking about anything carnal, but a local doctor explains to Lars' brother and it's important that those who love Lars play along.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (As Gus) Pretend that she's real? I'm not gonna do - I mean, I can't, I'm just not gonna do it.

Ms. PATRICIA CLARKSON (Actress): (As Dagmar) She is real. She's right out there. Bianca is in town for a reason.

Mr. SCHNEIDER: (As Lars) Right. But - but…

Ms. CLARKSON: (As Dagmar) It's not really a choice.

TURAN: Writer Nancy Oliver is responsible for coming up with this totally original idea, and director Craig Gillespie and star Ryan Gosling understood script in ways no one but the original writer usually does. The actor is at his best, playing the guileless Lars with unwavering, unbreaking sincerity.

"Lars and the Real Girl" is being distributed by MGM, complete with the studio's venerable roaring lion logo. It makes you wonder why the Louis B. Mayer of MGM's wholesome golden era would have thought. If the idea itself didn't give him a heart attack, he probably would like it just fine. It's that kind of a film.

AMOS: Kenneth Turan reviews films for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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