Lars and the Real Girl - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Lars and the Real Girl Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ March 14, 2010
This wonderful, special film could have been easily made into a silly comedy but instead is fortunately developed into a bittersweet drama that relies on a captivating performance by the always talented Ryan Gosling and never gives in to clichés or easy solutions.
Super Reviewer
December 13, 2008
This is a sly and yet oh so whimsical film about love, loneliness, and the human condition. At its heart it's about one person's long journey from secluded loner to acknowledged friend. The premise surrounds Lars, a man who basically gives up the house he inherited to his brother and his pregnant wife to start their family and goes and lives out in the back shed. He is quiet, contemplative, and obviously mournful of his parents, especially his mother who died when he was young. He is reclusive, and somewhat antisocial, but it's obvious that his family cares about him, that his co-worker likes him, and that he is not ready to advance in the world with so much grief stored up. Enter Bianca, who Lars christens as his girlfriend, and who he brings everywhere with him. The catch is that Bianca is a sex doll, one that is very expensive at that, and Lars follows the delusion that she is real by insisting that she is paraplegic, unable to dress herself or really take care of herself. He goes through the delusion, and everyone around him has to indulge in order for him to move on with his life, including his entire church, his family, and friends and co-workers. The film remains quirky the entire way through, but it is very heartbreaking. As he begins to go through the stages towards acceptance he begins to lose interest in his polyurethane friend and invents barriers between the two of them. As the film unfurls you realize the depths of his own awkward isolation. Not only that but because of his lingering adoration for an inanimate object, and the emotional impact attached to it, everyone around him slowly realizes just how deep and scarred he really is, and that makes everyone adore him all the more. The relationships that are built from his attachment to the doll are really the most important aspect of the film as a whole. Besides being quite off-beat, this film tells a lot about grieving, and a lot about how we deal with the extreme losses in our lives.
Super Reviewer
March 7, 2013
This concept could have bombed in many ways. How do you compellingly film a relationship involving a synthetic, inanimate being? "Cast Away" did it with a volleyball, but the script didn't have to arrange Tom Hanks' character introducing Wilson to his coworkers and loved ones. Absurdity and compassion mix in just the right portions here, gently showing examples on how to be a person. The story progression is tidy, but out of necessity, not laziness or shallowness. The characters have depth and intrigue and are all likeable. I wasn't at all ready to leave any of them.
Super Reviewer
½ February 7, 2013
Unlikely tale that asks if it takes a community to raise a child, mightn't it take a community to heal one? An individual agonising through some life difficulties makes a unusual choice as a solution ... but instead of ostracising him as any society normally would, the community all out embraces him. Its an interesting supposition, and interestingly played as well.
Super Reviewer
January 20, 2013
Lars Lindstrom:  Those are nice, huh? And they're not real, so they'll last forever. 

"The search for true love starts outside the box."

Lars and the Real Girl may sound, initially, like somewhat of a weird, maybe even disgusting film. Okay, so it is sort of weird, but not anything like what you would think. One thing it isn't though is disgusting. Instead, it's a beautiful piece of filmmaking from Gillespie. It's wonderfully acted by everyone involved, with amazing performances put in by Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, and Patricia Clarkson. The movie has tremendous heart from beginning to end. 

Lars is a loner who lives in a garage, turned home, across from his brother, Gus, and Gus' wife, Karen. Lars shows up at their front door with extraordinary news one night. He met a girl, Bianca, on the Internet and she's over at his house right now. Gus and Karen couldn't be more excited. That is until Lars and Bianca show up later that night and they realize that Bianca is a sex doll. They soon find out Lars is delusional and truly believes that Bianca is real. When they take him and Bianca to the doctor to get "Bianca" checked out, the doctor tells them it's important for them to play along with Lars' delusion. 

The plot may sound off-putting to some, but I can't stress how important it is to not worry about how weird it sounds going in. Beneath the plot, there's a heartwarmingly, true to life story being told. I won't lie and say that you will no doubt love this film, but if you give it a chance, there's a good chance you will. This is easily one of Gosling's best performances to date. He pulls off a role that you don't really think of him in, and he does it with such effectiveness. He's 100% believable as Lars.

I really ended up falling in love with this movie. It's slow, quiet, and doesn't try to create humor out of the doll, as much as you think it would. Still, it has moments that are extremely funny. It's a dramedy in every sense of the genre, and is one of the more effective ones I've seen in quite a long time at combining drama and comedy. In the end, this is a film I highly recommend. For Gosling fans, it's a must watch.
Bathsheba Monk
Super Reviewer
December 5, 2012
Ryan Gosling is a great actor. {I really hope he's not too old to play a key character, Duck, if my novel Nude Walker ever makes it to the screen (big or little).} This movie was suprising in so many ways: I was hoping it wouldn't be sappy and it wasn't; I was afraid it would degenerate into violence (which always seemed right beneath the surface with the wood chopping and the kitchen knife and the brother's anger)but it didn't. I don't know if Lars had a real "syndrome" but it did remind me of Mel Gibson's The Beaver, so I guess using a doll to work through problems is common-enough and anyway seemed very believable, as did the small-town reaction to him and Bianca. Screenplay was wonderful. Gentle touch was wonderful. And did I mention Ryan Gosling?
Super Reviewer
½ July 2, 2012
'Lars and the Real Girl' is a charming dramedy (with more drama than comedy) that is both entertaining and poignant. At the the center of it all, Ryan Gosling gives one of my favorite performances as a lovable loner that buys a sex doll and labels it as his girlfriend. The premise seems like there will be a lot of chances for disaster, but director Gillespie guides the film through tricky waters, making it extremely enjoyable. But the true delight of this film stems from all the amazing acting and characters, mainly a superb Ryan Gosling. There never seems to be a dull moment in this shot of poignancy.
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2012
Lars and the Real Girl, present a criative story with a good written screenplay and a talent cast. It's very surprising how the film is moving and original, a mix that works in a terrific way. Fresh.
Super Reviewer
August 22, 2009
This is certainly a different film, but quite good in it's own right.
Ryan Gosling portrays the affable introvert Lars Lindstrom who is in near solitude for years; only to have a "friend" he's met on the internet come and visit. He introduces Bianca to his brother and his wife who are stunned at the fact that Bianca is in fact a life-size "love" doll that Lars is treating and representing as a human being.
The family doctor explains after meeting Bianca in Lars's presence that this is a delusion he's created for reasons unknown, but believes that the best thing is for them to do is go along with it. The subsequent events show the emotional journey for Lars and the people around him, and how Bianca is more helpful than one may think for Lars.
I know that sounds odd, but it's something you have to see to understand. The brilliant acting performance by Gosling really makes this film what it is. The vulnerability and delusional qualities Lars has are quite sad, but are also quite funny at times due to the context of the film, and the reactions of others to Bianca, the "Real Girl".
Super Reviewer
½ April 21, 2008
This movie could have failed so easily. It could have easily descended into something gross, lurid, or stupid, but it doesn't. The whole situation is played straight, and the movie is all the better because of it.

It's not really a comedy either. It might seem like some sort of lighthearted comedic tale, and, while there are some funny moments, this is actually a really sweet and serious drama. Not once did I really think twice about whether or not to buy into the movie and take it seriously. You pretty much have to, otherwise it doesn't work.

This is pretty easy to do, because it is just so well-written, directed, and acted. This is pretty much Ryan Gosling's show, but everyone does an excellent job here. The performances are just so sincere and genuine that you find yourself really caring about the people and what happens. I don't think I've seen a more genuine and honest love story like this in a long time.

Here's how well the movie works: by the end of it, I was actually legitimately shedding tears. I really couldn't help it. The film is just so heartfelt, emotional, and moving that it's basically unavoidable unless you are dead inside. Okay, that's maybe a bit too strong, but the movie is extremely effective, and I feel like I really learned a good lesson about tolerance, grief, and the human condition for having watched it.
Super Reviewer
October 3, 2010
"Lars and the Real Girl" has the type of story that can be an awful failure in the long run, but the emotions that lurk throughout this film are breathtakingly "real!" Ryan Gosling gives a powerhouse performance as Lars Lindstrom, a man who's mental illness is never quite clear, creating fictional realities. He orders a doll from a sex website and ends up creating a relationship that let's him fall in love with a silicon figure. The idea may sound silly, but when you put yourself in the shoes of the other characters around him, you will find yourself crying as he makes real life decisions for his soon to be bride. I absolutely loved every second of this film. It is the type of film that will not appeal to everyone, but the ones that it does appeal to, will love it! In my eyes, this is pure storytelling at it's independent high!
paul o.
Super Reviewer
February 24, 2012
ITs great, quirky, and deep. Gosling gives a great performance and the ending is in some ways majestic.
Super Reviewer
January 24, 2012
When you see the poster for this film, with a moustachioed Ryan Gosling sitting on his sofa, grinning from ear to ear and accompanied by a sex doll, you be forgiven for entering into this and expecting some form of farcical sex-comedy. The poster however, is somewhat misleading. This is more of a drama (with a hint of quirkiness) and it's a sensitive and heartfelt one at that.
Pathologically shy guy Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) introduces his new 'girlfriend' Bianca, a lifelike plastic doll, to his sister-in-law Karin (Emily Mortimer) and brother Gus (Paul Schneider). Somewhat concerned, they decide to call in sympathetic psychologist Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) who advises that everyone play along with treating Bianca as a real person to try and get to the bottom of Lars' obvious mental condition.
Lars is a tragic character that Gosling imbues with a real fragile innocence. It's another marvellous and enigmatic performance from him. He keeps the audience at just the right distance. Never letting you in, but still maintaining a likeability. Lars is a character that could so easily be laughed at and ridiculed but it's testament to writer Nancy Oliver, director Craig Gillespie, the supporting cast of Mortimer, Schnieder and Clarkson, and particularly Gosling's lead in bringing the character - and his social trauma - so vividly to life. Instead of being a farcical film of cheap jokes, it becomes a touching exploration of mental health that's quite unlike anything you'll have seen before.
It's deliberately paced and some may even find it lethargic but I found it to be a highly original and deeply sensitive drama anchored by a marvellous central performance.
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2009
Strange concept pulled off with some genuine emotion and a great central performance. Full review later.
Super Reviewer
½ December 9, 2007
This is the story of Lars, a reclusive weirdo who has a hard time meeting or even talking to women. While our first impression of him may be odd, nothing prepares for the fact that he orders a real-looking sex doll and presents it as his girlfriend. That's a bit of a stretch of course and the community's reaction is even more unexpected: due to his doctor's advice, everyone plays along and treats "Bianca" like a real person. Once you get over the fact there is not one mean person in this town who would try to snap Lars out of it, this is a really sweet and heart warming film. Lars' and the community's treatment of Bianca is like therapy for him and his slow steps towards normality are well done, also thanks to Gosling's excellent acting performance. The fact that the film manages to make you weep for a sex-doll in the end speaks for itself.
Super Reviewer
October 21, 2011
i noticed someone tried to make a comparison between "lars and the real girl" and "love object" which is a more obscure horror-movie made in 2003. what drives me into finally spending the time to see it after so many years is because of an odd incident happened in switzerland: a 25-year-old guy got caught from having sex with his dog, and he was brought to the court wearing the collar of his dog, vowing his undying faithful love to the dog (which also happens to be a HE.) the guy insisted that he did nothing wrong, consensual affair since he did a series of courtships to it. still, he was sentenced to jail. my feeling was, the guy should be acquitted. ok, whether he should be sentenced is not an issue to discuss here, but my point is, you see nowadays lots of people treat their pets as if they were their own children meanwhile they're reluctant to produce any seed of their own. would you call them problematic? another question would be WHY! what is the emotional obstacle out there that drives people into bestowing their most precious affections to THINGS(anything non-human) instead of real human? is it safer to love an inanimate thing which cannot respond back so we could always live within an illusion of happiness without actually running the risk to have our hearts damaged?

lars in this movie falls in love with a sex doll he orders from internet, and he treats this sex doll romantically while there's no sex involved in this "relationship." stricken by this sudden change, lars' family and friends all open their hearts to this inanimate doll as if she were real human. it turns out that the sex-doll has more active social life within the community than withdrawn lars. (honestly, that part is not very believable, but it's a movie which is based on a larger-than-life fictional idea). at last, lars lets the sex doll die as he gradually grows more and more fond of his female coleague.

my first wonder would be, in childhood, lots of little girls have imaginary friends, quite often, the imaginary friends are their dolls purchased by the parents. we indulge little kids on behaving this way, patiently waiting for the kids to grow out of this oddity by participating as part of the child's act-play. particularly for young female kids. but for male kids, they're deprived of such luxury due to the fright of effemination. thus, when boys grow up, some of them tend to find some obedient girlfriend to compensate this lack of "dolly friend" in childhood. or if they're too socially inadequate, they would simply purchase a sex-doll online as some substitute girlfriend like lars. that is the gender issue here. also, you don't see stories about woman having a male-doll as boyfriend that often in cinematic pop culture, right? usually, just dysfunctional adult-woman has female-doll as imaginary friend, such as that 2005 horror-movie may.

my second wonder would be, why we consider it abnormal (or delusional, according to the movie) when an adult does something guileless like that (dating the sex doll or falling in love with a dog)? the simple answer would be, because he's adult, he ain't supposed to do that! there's a basic psychological term called regression, a wish to retreat into childhood when a person cannot handle the stress in his present stage of life. in my opinion, in this decade, people all suffer from the want of regression, just take a look at the blurred demarcation between adult and child clothings, the popularity of adults having pets as child-substitutes...but we all seek harmless camouflage for ourselves to get away with what we do in life as long as it casts no harm to others before the issue of sex infiltrates into the picture and gives everything more irrevocable layers of complexity because fetishized sex invites the disturbing mental image of miscellaneous intercourse. the phobia of hybridity is still, in some way, deep rooted within people's mindset despite its ticklish sensations. without sex, it would be forgivable indulgement of regression; with sex, it would become a condemnable gesture of transgression!

back to the comparison between "lars and the real girl" and "love object", the former is a childlike representation of infantile regression; the latter is a violatile simulcrum of malicious transgression (if you cannot have the woman you desire, order a doll which resembles her then tears her apart in pieces)...lars and the real girl is about an adult-boy's journey of ridding off his imaginary friend and fledging into a wholesome adulthood where he become tangible and capable of dealing with real intimacy.

as for which one is more interesting? it depends on your mood. sometimes i crave for regression but there're also times when i seek surrogate transgression, intensified sexuality relished in extreme circumstances of life.
Super Reviewer
August 24, 2011
This slightly odd film could have been disastrous with it's unusual plot and story. It was the great quality of acting from lead Ryan Gosling and the rest of the cast that really made this film feel sincere and rich with substance. I'm sure it was also the more serious approach to Lar's condition and not just laughs that made this film so successful. A great quality film that comes off more sweet than depressing.
Super Reviewer
February 28, 2009
A fun little film. I was pleasantly surprised by Ryan Gosling's acting chops as well as the rest of the cast. They pulled it off, perhaps in part because the idea of the film feels so outlandish it actually works.
Super Reviewer
½ June 2, 2009
The first thing worth saying about Lars and the Real Girl is that it's not as depressing as I expected. As the story develops, what you find in the film is a touching, borderline unbelievable depiction of what the support of a community can do - even for the "weirdest" of individuals. Ryan Gosling carries a weaker supporting cast through a touching and challenging story with his outstanding performance, and though the dialogue stumbles a couple of times, this is a fresh, original and heartfelt film. Watch out for Gosling, his Oscar is coming... one strong performance after another, and his Lars is chief among them. There's a little magic in this movie. It's excellent.
Super Reviewer
June 23, 2011
Very weird but gives you an insight on the real life of these people. It makes it even more weird that people actually do this and feel so strongly about it. A must see!
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