Ryan Gosling has recently been cast in roles that emphasise his charisma and sex appeal but a small, indie film from 2007 shows a different side of the actor. Lars and the Real Girl made a splash at the Sundance Festival and was critically praised, earning Gosling a Golden Globe nomination, but it failed to earn back its budget at the cineplex.
Lars is a socially awkward and introverted young man living in a small town. He lives in a converted garage on the family property and, despite the best efforts of his caring brother and sister-in-law, (they tackle him to the ground as he runs from his car to the garage in order to invite him to dinner) he remains isolated.
Things change one day when he comes up to the family home with the news that he has met someone over the internet. Bianca is, in fact, visiting from Brazil at that moment and he asks if she can stay at the house with them. Their glee turns to shock and dismay when Bianca is revealed to be a sex doll, one that Lars treats like a real girl.
Gosling is almost unrecognizable as Lars. A little heavier than he is now and sporting a mustache and a $5 haircut, he is all nervous tics and awkward movements. Emily Mortimer plays his cheerful and loving sister-in-law with a bright chirpiness. As his conflicted brother, Paul Schneider brings an ever so slightly darker note to the film.
Nancy Oliver was a writer for Six Feet Under and True Blood but she brings none of the darkness of those shows to the screenplay. Sweet and light, the film focuses on the generosity and kindness of human nature rather than its oddities and cruelties. TV commercial director Craig Gillespie lets the film meander gently and amiably through its 106 minute running time.
With "Into the Vault", Pauline Dong will be looking at older films that were overlooked on first release or deserve a second viewing. The series will appear on the first Thursday of every month.
Written by Pauline Dong
A native Torontonian, Pauline enjoys much that the city has to offer, especially in the areas of food and drink. She is also an enthusiastic traveller and explorer of other cultures. A self-described film geek, her interest in movies was first piqued by the early works of Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino and Wong Kar-Wai. More a fan than a critic, she invites your thoughts on the films in her articles.