Lars and the Girl

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Posted November 9, 2007 in Film

An awkward bachelor introduces his girlfriend to his brother and sister-in-law. He’s warned them that she’s a wheelchair-bound Brazilian raised by nuns. What he doesn’t add is that Bianca’s a $6,499.00 sex doll in fishnets and vinyl boots. Sounds like a comedy, right? But in casting Oscar-nominated Ryan Gosling as the ultra-shy 27-year-old alongside understated actresses Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson, director Craig Gillespie’s tipped his hand that he doesn’t see Nancy Oliver’s dramedy as some Farrelly Brothers gross-out, but as a straight and sensitive portrait of extreme isolation. Lars’ loved ones don’t crack jokes; they wring their hands over brain tumors and mental institutionalization. As Lars refuses to recognize that his ladylove is high-grade silicone, the rest of these plain-speaking, cast-first-stone Midwestern townsfolk decide to embrace his delusion, hiring Bianca at the mall and electing her to the school board. (“She loves kids,” he gushes.) The real love connection isn’t between a troubled man and a doll, or even his perfectly quirky coworker Margo (Kelli Garner), but between him and his rallying neighbors who conclude that what Jesus would do is invite Bianca to dance at their Christmas party. While the film pulls a few punches—namely, that a minimum-wage working man would blow seven grand on a babe with working orifices and never even consider compromising her chastity—its off-kilter sweetness is as inoffensive and likable as a tepid cup of cocoa. (Amy Nicholson)


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