Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Written by:Nancy Oliver
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Kelli Garner, Patricia Clarkson
Released: April 3, 2008
Grade: A-

Lars Lindstrom (Gosling) is single 27-year-old guy.  He lives with his older brother, Gus (Schneider), and his pregnant sister-in-law, Karin (Mortimer).  He has a regular job, goes to Church every Sunday and is well liked by everyone in the small town.  He sounds like the perfect catch for a young woman looking for love.  In fact, there’s a cute girl from work named Margo (Garner) is trying hard to get his attention.

The problem for Margo is that Lars has an extremely introverted personality, particularly when it comes to dealing with women.  He actually lives out in the garage (separate from the main house) so that he can avoid interacting with his brother and his wife.  He is a very private person.  Lars’s mother died at childbirth and he was raised as a child by his father and brother.  Could this have something to do with how he turned out?

One day, Lars knocks on the front door of the house and tells Gus and Karin that he’s met a girl named Bianca.  Their initial excitement turns to shock horror when Lars brings her over for an introduction.  Bianca is a sex doll that Lars ordered over the internet!  Lars keeps her in a wheelchair and talks to her as if he were a real person.  Gus and Karin don’t know what to think.  The local psychiatrist (Clarkson) suggests they go along with the façade or else it might further upset Lars’s fragile mental condition.

Soon enough, Lars is taking Bianca everywhere with him.  He takes her to church, he takes her to parties and he takes her on romantic drives.  He even has photos of her at his desk at work.  Everyone in the town starts following the lead of Gus and Karin in pretending that she’s real.  No one has the guts to tell the likeable Lars what they really think so they let the charade continue.  How long can this go on for though?  Is this a permanent condition or will Lars eventually realise what’s going on?

It’s a strange idea for a movie but it deserves a huge wrap for its originality.  Writer Nancy Oliver was nominated for best original screenplay at the Oscars earlier this year (but Diablo Cody’s Juno script went on to win).  This bizarre scenario provides a lot of room for good jokes.  Some of the best scenes involve people meeting Bianca for the first time.  There’s an emotional impact as well – whilst you may laugh at Lars, you feel sympathetic towards him and the people around him at the same time.

As you’d expect, Ryan Gosling (The Notebook) is terrific the leading role.  His character could easy look foolish (talking to a sex doll all day) but Gosling is believable.  It’s hard to describe how but trust me, he is!  The supporting cast are also wonderful.  They include the underrated Emily Mortimer (Match Point), the underrated Paul Schneider (All The Real Girls) and the underrated Patricia Clarkson (Pieces Of April).

I was surprised to learn that the director of the film is an Aussie.  Craig Gillespie (whose only other credit to date was the forgettable Mr. Woodcock) moved to New York when he was 19 years old and studied film at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.  Having made television commercials for the last few years, Gillespie has stepped up to plate and taken a swing at being a feature film director.  With Lars And The Real Girl, he’s hit a home run.