Combustible Celluloid
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With: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Kelli Garner, Patricia Clarkson, Karen Robinson
Written by: Nancy Oliver
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sex-related content
Running Time: 106
Date: 11/01/2007

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Doll Bearer

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written by Nancy Oliver (TV's Six Feet Under and True Blood), Lars and the Real Girl (2007) starts with what sounds like a sitcom setup: a lonely man buys a lifelike doll and develops a relationship with her. Happily, the movie never goes for cheap laughs or easy situations, and when it seems like it's just about to go someplace overly familiar, it holds back. It remains rooted in human truth, finding beautiful emotions in the absurdity.

Ryan Gosling plays Lars, and it's a highly skilled performance, intuitive and interior (not unlike Joaquin Phoenix's character in Her). He doesn't relate well to people and doesn't like to be touched, so his doll, Bianca, is the perfect solution for him. His brother (Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer) do their best to understand, and in some of the movie's finest scenes, a clever doctor/psychologist (Patricia Clarkson) pretends to examine Bianca while treating Lars. Nothing ever goes quite where you expect it to, and Oliver's screenplay received an Oscar nomination. Craig Gillespie directs.

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