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LARS AND THE REAL GIRL: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Lars (Ryan Gosling) lives and works in a small northern US town with his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law Karin (Emily Mortimer), secluding himself in the ample garage. He resists all Karin's attempts to socialize, but one winter's day he announces he has a visitor. It turns out to be a life size doll; he calls her Bianca and treats her like a real girl, complete with her life story. Unsure how to behave, Gus and Karin ask local doctor Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) for help; she diagnoses delusion, but has no remedy, except to suggest they treat Bianca as real, too. Slowly, the community - even his workmate Margo (Kelli Garner), who has a soft spot for Lars - also befriends Lars' silent girlfriend, and Lars struggles to overcome the demons that bind him.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Australian-born director Craig Gillespie does a great job handling Nancy Oliver's script about an introverted young man who finds it easier to have an imaginary relationship with a life sized doll than with his fellow humans. The trauma of his mother's death in childbirth has haunted him all his life, and his reluctance for close human contact takes physical form in stinging pain when his skin is touched. But this explanation hardly comes close to explaining the wonderfully upbeat, genuinely humane mood that Gillespie maintains even in the film's darker moments. Nancy Oliver's highly original screenplay, winner of National Board of Review's Original Screenplay Award (2007) and rightly nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA, juggles the elements adroitly, allowing us to laugh at the inherent humour of the situation while at the same time taking it seriously.

Ryan Gosling does a terrific job creating Lars, a complex character who is not naturally shy but whose emotions have been crippled. He is totally convincing as the troubled soul with a yearning to love and unable to channel it - except to Bianca, a life sized doll. Emily Mortimer makes a likeable and credible Karin, whose concern is sincere and enduring. Paul Schneider is magnificent as Lars' older brother, guilt ridden over his earlier decision to leave home with Lars to live alone with their problematic father.

All the supports are first rate, notably Kelli Garner as Margo, the young woman from Lars' office who has a secret crush on him, but too proud to compete with Bianca the lifeless doll, whose origins on the internet are well known, but while acknowledging the sexual connotation, the filmmakers turn that into a subject for humour, not sleaze.

If the complicity of the entire community, from the church to the hospital to fall in with the pretence is straining credibility, perhaps we should recognise that that's how communities ought to behave.

The film is at once entertaining, heartwarming and thought provoking, hard to label and impossible to simplify - but really easy to enjoy.

Special features include The Real Story of Lars and the Real Girl, a featurette on the leading lady plus a deleted scene.

Published August 14, 2008

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

LARS AND THE REAL GIRL: DVD (PG)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Kelli Garner, Patricia Clarkson, Nancy Beatty

PRODUCER: Sarah Aubrey, John Cameron, Sidney Kimmel

DIRECTOR: Craig Gillespie

SCRIPT: Nancy Oliver

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adam Kimmel

EDITOR: Tatiana S. Riegel

MUSIC: David Tom

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Arvinder Grewal

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 13, 2008

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted Scene - "Bathtub"; Featurette - The Real Story Of Lars And The Real Girl; Featurette - A Real Leading Lady

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: August 13, 2008







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