Lars (Ryan Gosling) is a guy who is lacking in the social skills department. He lives in a small town where his place of residence is the guesthouse of his family’s property. His brother Gus and sister-in-law Karen live in the main house. He works a boring job and goes to church, but his painful shyness problem and complete lack of socialization cause Karen to worry about him.
Gus and Karen are thrilled when one day Lars reports to the house, unbidden, to announce he has a new friend coming to stay. Her name is Bianca and she’s a Brazilian/Dutch girl raised by nuns who Lars really likes. He met her on the internet!
Bianca is actually a Real Doll – one of those creepy, uber-realistic sex dolls you can buy on the internet – but Lars speaks to her as if she were a real person. He insists on eating meals with her, taking her to church and generally treating her as if she’s a walking, talking human being.
Gus and Karen are horrified and upset. They take Lars to the local psychologist/doctor who advises them to keep the charade up with Lars. From there, they have to convince the locals to treat Bianca as a real person to keep Lars happy.
Lars and the Real Girl is a sweet and charming film for ninety percent of the film’s run time. There’s a cute scene with Ryan Gosling giving a stuffed bear CPR, even. It’s a solid, well-made movie. I only have one problem with the film: it feels a little folksy-ethereal in a way.
As Bianca is accepted by the community at large, Lars comes out of his cocoon and the weird family unit that Lars has comes to terms with why he’s suffering the delusion that Bianca is real. It feels very ungrounded, however, primarily because everyone in the town is willing to go along with the charade of Bianca-as-a-real-person. While there’s some roadblocks to this at first, they’re easily surmounted. It feels a little unreal in a way, because Bianca begins to “volunteer” within the community and is accepted as a real girl. It begs the viewer to accept that these folks are that good-hearted, but it doesn’t feel realistic that someone might not stand up and say, “Lars, buddy, that’s um…that’s a doll you’re talking to, man.”
Overall, though, it’s a nice, very solid film that’s a good one-time watch. It manages a cute and sweet feeling without overdoing it and has some moments of genuinely good humor. The actors to watch in this are definitely Emily Mortimer and Ryan Gosling, who are the best of the bunch. Worth a Netflix, for sure.