Lars and the Real Girl
A troubled young man finds a girlfriend. When she comes to stay, Lars' blow-up doll is not what most people expected. score

moviereview rates films from
1 (unwatchable) to 5 (unmissable)
Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer,
Paul Schneider, Patricia Clarkson

Craig Gillespie

Nancy Oliver


Rating / Running Time
M / 106 minutes

Australian Release
March 2008

Official Site

(c) moviereview 2006-2008
ABN 72 775 390 361
Nancy Oliver, a frequent scribe on TV’s Six Feet Under, penned this extraordinary dramatic comedy. The quirk that marked the series as a must-watch is at the core of this irregularly funny, frequently moving, film. Set in the kind of small town favoured by indie directors (think Broken Flowers meets Northern Exposure), Lars and the Real Girl studies relationships: Lars and his sister-in-law, Lars and his colleagues, Lars and the townsfolk, Lars and his new girlfriend.

Played with eye-catching, button-downed conviction by Gosling (Half Nelson), Lars is an awkward, shy and troubled young man. His brother lives in the family house, Lars lives frugally next door ignoring the concern of his sister-in-law, work-mates and assorted neighbours. Paradoxically, his desperate need for a meaningful relationship leads to the internet where he meets Bianca. The problem when she comes to stay is not that she can’t walk but the fact that Bianca is a blow-up doll.

Lars and the Real Girl is a wonderful, erudite examination of delusion and the instinctual kindness of love. As Lars re-engages with his community he forces them, and to some extent himself, to re-examine the world around him. Facing their obligations to this sweet-centered son, the townsfolk willingly work to help Lars and his girl. Real or otherwise.

So much is on offer it is regrettable that Oliver and Gillespie steer Lars toward Nora Ephron territory by films end, muting some of their ample thunder. An unconvincing funeral pokes a sharp pin in the bubble of belief that had been well protected, despite the subject matter. Yet it’s a minor misstep in this heart-warming drama, a film made better by a resolute cast and thoughtful nuggets of humanity found therein.