Lars and the Real Girl
- Paul Dale
- 13 March 2008
If, as the American columnist and poet Don Marquis noted, 'fishing is a delusion entirely surrounded by liars in bad clothes', then he should try a few hours in the sub zero Wisconsin town where Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) lives. Lars is an unusual young man. Quiet and sullen he has lived alone in a wooden chalet next to his big brother's house since the death of his father. Brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and his pregnant wife Karin (Emily Mortimer) try and integrate him into their lives and the church-centric community as best they can but his nonchalance is all consuming.
Then, one day Lars knocks on their door with an unusual new girlfriend, whose effect on the pregnant Karin, Lars and the whole town is to be deeply significant.
Director Craig Mr Woodcock Gillespie and Six Feet Under scribe Nancy Oliver's high concept comedy drama stays just this side of irksome as it details Lars' emotional healing through the wise guidance of psychotherapist Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson, the queen of this kind of US independent) and bleeding heart Karin. By turns tender, thoughtful and open hearted what really marks this sweet comedy out is its distinctiveness, which lies mostly in the detail. From the dreary Wisconsin setting to Gosling's impenetrable reading of his character this is a work of tiny strokes, each one building up to an abstraction of rare emotion and unilateral delusion. Lars and the Real Girl manages to be both ridiculous and joyous.