Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Lars and the real girl

The Lars laugh is on us as he's no dummy

Funny ha-ha as well as funny-weird, this offbeat story from Six Feet Under writer Nancy Oliver bodes very well indeed, says Noel McAdam

Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Patricia Clarkson

Here it is. The first laugh-out-loud learning experience movie of the year. Lars is a loner. He basically can't bear to be around people. The brother and sister-in-law whose garage he lives in are kind of concerned.

More so when Lars announces he has a visitor. A female visitor. It just turns out she's plastic.

Lars has bought himself a blow-up doll, with anatomically correct parts ... called Bianca.

Brother Paul and sister-in-law Karin bring both of them to the doctor who asks Paul if there's been much change in the family in the last year.

"Well," he says, "my wife got pregant and my brother went nuts."

But the doc's advice is to indulge Lars' fantasy and soon the whole community is playing along, producing several genuinely hilarious scenes. Bianca even gets elected to the school board.

Directed by relative newcomer Craig Gillespie, who made last year's quirky Billy Bob Thornton movie Mr Woodcock, it is the first full movie script from Six Feet Under writer Nancy Oliver, and works on several levels.

While we laugh at Lars and the surreal situation we gradually enter his head and begin to understand that, perhaps, in the way we treat other people, we are not that different.

And you realise Lars is healing himself, just not by conventional means. Before long you may be laughing and crying at the same time.

It's a quite remarkable achievement.

Gosling, whose last big movie hit was The Notebook, is note-perfect here as Lars but the performances, including that of Clarkson from Six Feet Under, are uniformly excellent.

Showing at the Queen's Film Theatre, from tonight.

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