How would you feel when, one day, your younger brother rings your doorbell and gives you a happy news – that he has finally met somebody. And then you get the shock of your life when you find out that she is an “anatomically correct” doll and not a real person.
Ryan Gosling plays Lars Lindstrom, a terribly shy and lonely young man who suffers from a severe case of social anxiety disorder. He shuns all forms of intimacy except with Bianca, this life-size doll he has just ordered through the Internet. He is adorable and you feel so much pity for him that you want to hug him. But I’m sure he won’t let you.
Craig Gillespie’s Lars and the Real Girl is one of the few Gosling films that I recommend to someone when they say they have only seen him in Drive and that they want to further explore his filmography. This, along with Blue Velvet and Half Nelson, showed me what a fantastic actor he is and it’s after watching these two films that I started calling him the new Robert De Niro.
Anyway, the film is about how an entire community comes together to help a man get rid of his “sickness” which, according to the psychologist that his brother and his wife takes him to, is not really ‘mental illness’ but a form of delusion. He functions normally but has difficulty communicating with people normally, except with his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and a male colleague.
Every time a woman makes an attempt to get close to him, he tries to get away. At one point, Emily Mortimer, who plays his brother’s wife, tries to invite him to dinner and she has to literally overpower him to the ground when he tries to evade her. Eventually, they have no choice but to tell everyone about it and they are kind enough to play along because this is what the doctor ordered.
This psychologist is played by Patricia Clarkson. She is a very patient woman and has a comforting face. She treats Lars under the pretense of “treating” Bianca, telling him that she has some health problems that need to be taken care of. She opens up to him and slowly he becomes comfortable. Gosling is so unbelievably good in the role that you wonder why he wasn’t given any Oscar consideration that year.
Was it because of Daniel Day-Lewis’s There Will Be Blood? Just watch Gosling’s extraordinarily realistic performance and I guarantee you that it’s going to put a big smile on your face. He is jittery, blinks his eyes excessively and at one point, becomes overwhelmed with severe anxiety in Clarkson’s office. His body language, mannerisms, and gestures are so impeccable that, if you’ve had a similar episode yourself before, you know this is an authentic performance.
I don’t know how he does it but Gosling really makes you believe that Bianca is a real woman and eventually you, just like everyone else in the film, pretend to take part in his delusion and wish he comes out of it and starts leading a normal life. It’s a pity that the only Oscar nomination this film got was in the writing department. Gosling received a Golden Globe nomination but didn’t win. It is high time this man won an Oscar. If you haven’t seen this yet, drop everything and watch it asap.