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Lars and the Real Girl


‘…plays nicely with questions about how best to deal with delusion…’

Soon to be dolled up in the new Barbie movie, Ryan Gosling’s body of work so far 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 obvious good looks to reach out for something darker. Gillespie also had a substantial critical and commercial hit directing living doll Margot Robbie in I, Tonya, and displays some of the same sharpness in this deft, nimble film.

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. Like artifical flowers, she ‘may not be real, but lasts forever.’ Emily Mortimer plays Karin, Lars’s sister-in-law, who is disturbed with good reason 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 classic play Enrico V.

Films that deal with mental illness can often go overboard with sentimentality, particularly Hollywood ones, but Gosling and Mortimer both give intelligent readings of their characters, and Gillespie’s film plays nicely with questions about how best to deal with delusion. Lars may be acting in a wild manner, but there’s some method in what he does, and issues do get resolved, just not in the expected way.

Looking away from conventional medicine for answers, Lars and The Real Girl looks to experience as a way of correcting mental problems, and offers a healthy, wholesome alternative to chemical cures. Gosling has quite a roster of successes now, from The Nice Guys to Drive to The Believer to Half Nelson, and while recent clonker The Gray Man suggested he might be heading in a less impressive direction, films like Lars show a star on the rise.


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  1. I’ve seen Gosling’s name a lot, but I don’t know if I have seen him in anything. For some reason I always thought he just did rom-coms and the such.

  2. Haven’t seen Gosling in much, but haven’t liked him much in anything I have seen. I thought this sounded kind of interesting when it came out but so far I’ve managed to pass on it.

    When are you getting on Barbie? Oppenheimer? Sound of Freedom?

    • First two this weekend if I can stay the course. No date for Freedom as yet.

      Aren’t you Canada’s answer to Gosling?

  3. I looked up Goslings filmography, he’s been in a lot of movies but I’ve only seen Blade Runner 2 and The Gray Man, apparently he was in The Big Short too but I don’t remember him in that. I’ll have a look into some of the others including this one.

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