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Posts Tagged ‘Patricia Clarkson’

This is such an unusual movie, I’m not sure how to begin reviewing it.  Ryan Gosling plays Lars Lindstrom, a young man living in a small town.  Lars finds it difficult to interact with anybody, including his brother and sister-in-law, who do their best to include him at their meals etc.  So everyone is surprised when he announces he has a new girlfriend – but not as surprised as they are when they meet her…for Bianca is a life sized doll who Lars has ordered from the internet.  However, he is oblivious to the fact that she is anything other than a living breathing person, and has created a whole backstory for her.

Initially the people in the small town where Lars lives (never named, but possibly Minnesota) are shocked and not sure how to react, but due to their affection for Lars, they go along with the charade and eventually find themselves starting to care for Bianca and welcome her as one of the community.

If all this sounds very weird, that’s because it is!  It isn’t however disturbing, and neither does it have any sexual under or overtones (quite the opposite indeed, as Lars explains that both he and Bianca are deeply religious and therefore do not want to have sex).

I thought Ryan Gosling was outstanding as Lars.  In the hands of a poorer actor, this part could have been reduced to a silly comedic part.  However, he brings a real sense of vulnerability to Lars and I found it impossible not to care about him.  Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider provide excellent support as his sister in law and brother, who feel worry and guilt over the direction that Lars life has taken.  Patricia Clarkson also shines as the doctor who initially advises them to go along with the delusion.  While she essentially plays a supporting role, she creates a fully fleshed character, whose emotions and feelings come through in beautiful clarity.  I’m surprised that neither she not Gosling picked up at least an Oscar nomination for this film.

It’s not a comedy, despite the premise perhaps suggesting that it is.  Instead, this film is a gentle study of a young man struggling to cope with his demons, and his family struggling to accept the situation.  It’s also a lovely (if slightly sugar-coated) portrayal of a small town community overcoming reservations and casting off prejudices to help one of their own.

Unusual and rather lovely, I would definitely recommend this film.

Year of release: 2007

Director: Craig Gillespie

Writer: Nancy Oliver

Main cast: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider

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