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Lars and the Real Girl (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

April 13, 2011 by  



Unique and awkward… “Lars and the Real Girl” may be the most unusual film about love that you will ever see in your life and one that you will definitely remember.  Well-written, well-acted and a film that I definitely recommend!

Images courtesy of © 2007 Kimmel Distribution, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Lars and the Real Girl

FILM RELEASE DATE: 2007

DURATION: 107 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, Widescreen (1:85:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

COMPANY: MGM/Twentieth Century Fox

RATED: PG-13 (Some Sex Related Content)

RELEASE DATE: April 5, 2011

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Written by Nancy Oliver

Produced by Sarah Aubrey, John Cameron, Sidney Kimmel

Executive Produced: Peter Berg, Whitney Brown, William Horberg, Bruce Toll

Music by David Torn

Cinematograpy by Adam Kimmel

Edited by Tatiana S. Riegel

Casting by Robin D. Cook, Richard Hicks, David Rubin

Production Design by Arvinder Grewal

Art Direction by Joshu de Cartier

Set Decoration by Steve Shewchuk

Costume Design by Kirston Leigh Mann

Starring:

Ryan Gosling as Lars Lindstrom

Emily Mortimer as Karin

Paul Schneider as Gus

Patricia Clarkson as Dagmar

Karen Robinson as Cindy

Maxwell McCabe-Lokos as Kurt

Billy Parrott as Erik

Sally Cahill as Deb

Angela Vint as Sandy

R.D. Reid as Reverend Bock

Kelli Garner as Margo

Nancy Beatty as Mrs. Gruner

Doug Lennox as Mr. Hofstedtler

Joe Bostick as Mr. Shaw

Liz Gordon as Mrs. Schindler

Nicky Guadagni as Mrs. Petersen

Lars Lindstrom, a loveable introvert whose emotional baggage has kept him from fully embracing life. After years of solitude, Lars invites Bianca, a friend he met on the Internet to visit him. When he introduces Bianca to his brother and his wife they are stunned to find out that Bianca is a life-sized doll. What follows is a humorous but emotional journey for Lars, his family and the community around him.


Call it audacious, perhaps even risky but who would ever imagine a film that revolved around a character in love with an anatomically correct doll?

Well, that film titled “Lars and the Real Girl” was made into a reality in 2007 and it became a critically acclaimed film and nominated for several awards. The film is directed by Craig Gillespie (“United States of Tara”, “Mr. Woodcock”) and earned an Academy Award nomination for “Best Writing (Original Screenplay)” and also received a Golden Globe Award nomination for “Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy” for actor Ryan Gosling.

The concept of this film is from writer and producer Nancy Oliver (“Six Feet Under”, “True Blood”) who got the idea while perusing on the Internet and finding the website realdoll.com. A company that creates anatomically correct sex dolls and she wondered about the lonely men who actually purchase these dolls but instead of creating a script that could have been kitschy and ridiculous, she was able to craft an intelligently written film with humor and a fresh take on love, life and a person’s path to wellness after suffering some sort of a trauma in his life which he has had difficulty recovering from.

The film revolves around a man named Lars Lindstrom (played by Ryan Gosling, “The Notebook”, “Half Nelson”, “Remember the Titans”).  Lar’s is pretty much an anti-social person who is able to work and go to church but he has pretty much stayed cooped up inside the garage behind the house left to him and his older brother Gus (played by Paul Schneider, “Bright Star”, “The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) by their deceased father.

For so long, Gus’ wife Karin (played by Emily Mortimer, “Pink Panther” films, “Shutter Island”) has been trying his best to get Lars out of the garage, to have breakfast, lunch or dinner with them.    Unfortunately, Gus always comes up with a reason why he can’t join them.

But for Gus, he knows that his co-worker Margo (played by Kelli Garner, “The Aviator”, “Thumbsucker”) likes him but he tries to ignore her most of the time.  One day, while at work, an employee that sits next to him, tells him about an anatomically correct doll that he saw on realgirl.com and wishes he could buy it.  For Gus, he doesn’t really listen to this employee so he seems to act like he’s not listening.

But six months later, Gus receives a large package and out of nowhere, announces to his brother Gus and Karin that he has a female visitor that has arrived and asks them if she can stay in the guest bedroom and also if they can join them for dinner.

For both Gus and Karin, this is fantastic news as they feel that Lars is now feeling better and getting out of the house and has met a woman.

But to their surprise, what they see is a sex doll that he has named Bianca and for Lars, he treats this doll as a real person.  Lars tells them that she is a missionary and by the look on his face, he looks very happy.

Afraid that Lars may be a sick man, Gus and Karin come up with a plan that since Bianca has just arrived, it’s a good idea for her to go see Doctor Dagmar (played by Patricia Clarkson, “The Pledge”, “Shutter Island”, “The Green Mile”), since she is also a psychologist.

What Gus and Karin find out is that Lars is suffering from a delusion disorder and for now, he and Karin should pretend Bianca is a real person for Lars’ sake.  And because Lars wants to introduce his girlfriend to everyone, because they live in a small community, Gus and Karin prepares the community about Lars and Bianca’s relationship and that she is a sex doll.

And the interesting thing is that the church and members of the community and people at Lars’ work want to see him get better, so everyone gets into the act by befriending Bianca and pretending its a real being.  In fact, the community grows stronger as Bianca becomes one of them, from taking part in community events, reading to the children (via using a tape recorder) and so forth.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dagmar uses each session that is supposed to be for Bianca to examine Lars and it is learned that Lars’ mother died when she gave birth to him and both brothers were raised by their father who was heartbroken and became distant.  For Gus, he couldn’t take it and left his brother alone with his father.  And because of that, Lars is unable to have any kind of intimacy.  It’s so bad that he doesn’t want anyone to touch him and he fears of having children, even worried about his brother and his pregnant wife.

Will Lars be able to grow out of his delusion that Bianca is a real woman?  Will he be able to find happiness?

VIDEO:

“Lars and the Real Girl” is presented in 1080p (widescreen 1:85:1).  Picture quality is very good for this film as you can see the detail for example of Bianca (the doll) and just the overall atmosphere (in this case, the majority of the film was shot during the winter).  Skin tones are natural, blacks are nice and deep and I saw no signs of compression artifacts, dirt or any speckles.  Also, there is a good amount of grain throughout the film.

For the most part, PQ for “Lars and the Real Girl” looked very good!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Lars and the Real Girl” is presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital.  For the most part, the film is primarily center and front channel-driven.  This is a dialogue-heavy film and while you may hear the occasional car being driven in the snow or the crowd at a bowling alley via the surround channels, for the most part, this is an all-dialogue film and the lossless soundtrack is appropriate for this film.

Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Lars and the Real Girl” comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scene (:54) Featuring a single deleted scene titled “Bathtub” that revolved around Lars and Margo.
  • The real story of Lars and the real girl(10:11) Director Craig Gillespie and Nancy Oliver talk about the script and the creation of the movie, while cast members talked about what attracted them to the script.
  • A Real Leading Lady – (5:55) The cast and crew talk about working with the doll that plays Bianca.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:24) Featuring the original theatrical trailer to “Lars and the Real Girl”.


As I was watching “Lars and the Real Girl”, I was very surprised when I saw the sex doll and how it was being used as a character.  This was very bold for a film and literally, this film could have gone downhill and literally be recorded into halls of shame of moviemaking.  But instead, screenwriter Nancy Oliver was able to craft an intelligent, entertaining and humorous film.

Not only was it touching but it was a unique film that you would never expect being made and because it was well-written and well-acted, “Lars and the Real Girl” became one of the critically acclaimed films of 2007.

And the sad thing is that although it was audacious and intriguing to watch a story about a man who literally falls in love with a sex doll and sees it as an actual person, when you look at today’s society and reading about people who turn out for an animated character’s funeral, a person marrying a video game character, people who have a disconnect with reality and are actually falling for virtual characters, unfortunately, the concept doesn’t seem so far-fetched these days.

But “Lars and the Real Girl” is actually a film that goes a bit deeper and explores why Lars would be delusional.  This is a man who was literally scarred by the fact that his birth caused his mother’s death and the fact that his older brother couldn’t take their father’s depression and ran off, leaving Lars alone with his father probably added a lot to his lack of intimacy.  Not getting any love for his father and who knows if the father blamed the son for their mother’s death.  What we do know is that he carries his baby blanket all the time and is unable to feel or share any intimacy.

And I suppose when he has Bianca in his life, there is a little part of him that knows that because she is not real, it is OK for him to show intimacy by holding hands and being around her.  A little bit of him that feels that she will always be there for him. And he has that in his mind and thus sees Bianca as an actual woman.

But the surprising part of this film was how it showed Lars family accepting Bianca and doing what the doctor told them to do and pretend she is real and seeing the church and the community support them in order to help Lars.  Once again, this could have been such a kitschy, lamebrain film but its not.  Nancy Oliver did a remarkable job by tastefully showing us how Lars is able to grow but also with the help of Dr. Dagmar, the pain he must feel in his heart in order to say goodbye.

The acting is also well-done for this film.  Ryan Gossling is fantastic playing the awkward Lars and Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider, including Kelli Garner and Patricia Clarkson also did a solid job as well.  But it’s Gossling who was able to play the character naturally.  Well done!

As for the Blu-ray release of “Lars and the Real Girl”, while it may not be a special features heavy release nor is there an audio commentary track, this film is so unique and awkward from any movie you will possibly see in your entire life but it is tastefully done.

“Lars and the Real Girl” was a film that went under the radar because it only received a limited release in theaters.  But it will probably be one of the most unusual love stories that you will ever see in your life and one that you will probably never forget.

Definitely recommended!






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