Last night, Donnie and I watched Lars and the Real Girl, starring Ryan Gosling. I’d been hearing good things about it since it came out in late 2007 but had been wary since the leading lady is a real-looking sex doll. But it’s rated PG-13 and rightly so. There’s no sex in this movie because sex is not the point.
Instead, it’s about Lars’ journey to deal with accepting love from his family and his community. It might be the best, sweet, most-touching-without-being-sentimental movie I’ve seen in a long time. All of the actors (including the doll) created moving, relatable characters. In other words, it was like reading a tight, character-driven short story. I was particularly impressed with Emily Mortimer (Lars’ sister-in-law) in her mothering role, as well as Paul Schneider’s acting as Lars’ older brother. It was pleasurable to simultaneously relate with the brother and sister-in-law’s affection for Lars and their frustration and confusion at the presence of the doll. And, of course, Gosling does an amazing job creating a sympathetic, rich character. I’ve only seen him in The Notebook (I know, I know), and he made me cry in both.
This movie reminded me a lot of the quirkiness of Napoleon Dynamite and the surprising poignancy of movies like Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind.
So, if it’s not obvious yet, I highly recommend Lars and the Real Girl to anyone. If I hadn’t forced myself to put it back in its Netflix sleeve and mail it this morning, I probably would be watching it right now.