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Lars and The Real Girl 2007 ***

Ryan Gosling’s body of work is a remarkably consistent one; his choices have been varied and, with Craig Gillespie’s 2007 drama, often inspired in the way they play off his good looks to reach for something darker. Gosling plays Lars Lindstrom, a taciturn young man who shocks his family and local community with his choice for a new girlfriend; an inflatable doll. Emily Mortimer plays Karin, Lars’s sister-in-law, who is disturbed by his behaviour, but decides that the best way to snap him out of his delusion is to go along with it, in the style of Pirandello’s Enrico V. Films that deal with mental illness can often go overboard with sentimentality, but Gosling and Mortimer both give sharp accounts of their characters, and Gillespie’s film plays nicely with questions about how best to deal with delusion. Looking away from medicine, Lars and The Real Girl looks to experience as a way of correcting mental problems, and offers a healthy , wholesome alternative to chemical cures.

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