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Lars and the Real Girl
Genre Romance
Year: 2007

A delusional young guy embarks on an unconventional relationship with an anatomically-correct doll he finds on the Internet. To say that Lars and the Real Girl isn’t an ordinary love story is an understatement. Most people would expect the movie to be raunchy, what with a sex doll shacking up with a lonely guy. However, it isn’t and this may disappoint some people and bring a sigh of relief to others. Lars may be delusional, but he’s actually trying to grapple with the concept of women. He’s a shy, awkward sort of guy and hasn’t developed his social IQ to the point of being comfortable with women.

The domineering female influences in his life make him afraid, and he’s only able to grow accustomed to the opposite sex by interacting with a harmless one. The small townsfolk are hesitant at first, but Lars is even more defenceless than his “Barbie”. Ryan Gosling takes a challenging role and makes a fantastic character out of Lars. He’s not all there, and his mind seems to wander. He’s supported by a solid ensemble that carry the story and represent the view of the so-called normal.

Nancy Oliver was recognised for her original screenplay with an Oscar nomination. This isn’t the sort of project that any serious film-maker or performer would just pick up. The premise is alternate and journeys into some fairly uncomfortable situations. Mental illness is never easy to pull off and requires an unblemished performance. Adding the sexual curiousity of a sex doll doesn’t make matters easier. It may attract more attention, but this won’t necessarily translate into more views.

Lars and the Real Girl is about as weird as Punch Drunk Love in comparison with most generic romance stories. This is a cult “romcom” in the making, and is strictly art house material. You may feel a bit awkward at first, but the characters grow on you and the story is too fascinating to let go. Gosling’s performance is better than Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s in The Lookout, and both films are compelling, multi-genre pieces that deal with mental conditions. Lars and the Real Girl is entertaining and boasts strong performances, good writing and an original story.

The bottom line: Original.

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