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Lars and the Real Girl

Rated PG

Like Truly Madly Deeply and The Accidental Tourist, Lars and the Real Girl is about grief and intimacy.

Lars (played by Ryan Gosling) is a 27 year-old introvert who is terrified of being touched. He lives alone in a converted garage, next to the house inherited by Lars and his older brother, Gus (Paul Schneider), from their departed parents.

His sister-in-law, Karin (Emily Mortimer), is pregnant and excited about life, warmly inviting Lars to be part of the growing, extended family.

Lars is a hard nut to crack. He retreats into a private world, protecting himself from the friendship offered by neighbours at work and church.

One day, Lars announces to Gus and Karin that he wants to introduce them to a visitor he met over the internet – her name is Bianca, she speaks little English, and needs a wheelchair. Except Bianca (played by herself) is an anatomically-correct mannequin ordered from an ‘adult entertainment’ website. Somewhat disturbing.

Gillespie tacitly assures his audience at this point: ‘stay with me, now’.

The Director delivers. Lars has a delusion but, according to the family psychologist (played with soul by Patricia Clarkson), one which has been working its way to the surface since Lars’s mother died in childbirth.

Friends, workmates and fellow church-goers gather around the extraordinary couple, giving dignity to the situation, knowing that the psycho-drama must be played out in full.

Their decency is rewarded, as honoured in the moving climax to the film.

Winter thaws, as does Lars; his frozen demeanour is melted by the circle of love.

This unexpected film tells us that, for healing to happen, those who want to love the loveless must be patient, wise and kind – but mainly patient.

Lars and the Real Girl won many awards following its release at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007, including an Academy Award nomination for screenwriter, Nancy Oliver.

I enjoyed this film a lot – a package worth opening.

Reviewed by Mark Young