A couple (Paul Schneider, Emily Mortimer) hadn’t guessed who’s coming to dinner when Ryan Gosling brings trang chủ a “doll” in “Lars & the Real Girl.”

How vày you make a film about a life-sized love doll, ordered through the Internet, into a life-affirming statement of hope? In "Lars và the Real Girl," you vị it with faith in human nature, và with a performance by Ryan Gosling that says things that cannot be said. And you surround him with actors who express the instinctive kindness we show to those we love.

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Gosling, who has played neo-Nazis & district attorneys, now plays Lars Lindstrom, a painfully shy young man who can barely stand the touch of another human being. He functions in the world and has an office job, but in the evening, he sits alone in a cabin in the back yard of his family home. His mother died years ago, his depressive father more recently. Now the big house is occupied by his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) và pregnant sister-in-law Karin (Emily Mortimer). She makes it her business to lớn invite him to dinner, to cốt truyện their lives, but he begs off with one lame excuse after another, và sits alone in the dark.


One day a co-worker at the office, surfing internet porn, shows Lars a life-size vinyl love doll that can be order customized to lớn specifications. A few weeks later, a packing crate is delivered to lớn Lars, and soon his brother và sister-in-law are introduced lớn the doll. She is, they learn, named Bianca. She is a paraplegic missionary, of Brazilian and Danish blood, & Lars takes her everywhere in a wheelchair. He has an explanation for everything, including why she doesn"t talk or eat.

The movie somehow implies without quite saying that, although the doll comes advertised with "orifices," Lars does not use Bianca for sex. No, she is an ideal companion, not least because she can never touch him. With a serenity bordering on the surreal, Lars takes her everywhere, even khổng lồ church. She is as real as anyone in his life can possibly be, at this point in the development of his social abilities.

Gus is mortified. Karin is more accepting; she believes that, for Lars, any change is progress. They arrange for Lars and Bianca to lớn start seeing Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson), a therapist, who advises them to allow Lars khổng lồ live with his fantasy. Dagmar "treats" Bianca & confides in Lars. Nothing is said in so many words, but we sense that she thinks Bianca functions the way pets vì chưng with some closed-in people: The doll provides unconditional love, no criticism, no questions.

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The miracle in the plot is that the people of Lars" community arrive at an unspoken agreement to lớn treat Bianca with the same courtesy that Lars does. This is partly because they have long & sadly watched Lars closing into himself và are moved by his attempt lớn break free. The film, directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Nancy Oliver ("Six Feet Under"), wisely never goes for even one moment that could be interpreted as smutty or mocking. There are, to lớn be sure, some moments of humor; you can"t take a love doll everywhere without inspiring double-takes. And Gus sometimes blurts out the real-world truths we are also thinking.

There are so many ways "Lars và the Real Girl" could have gone wrong that one of the film"s fascinations is how adroitly it sidesteps them. Its weapon is absolute sincerity. It is about who Lars is, and how he relates khổng lồ this substitute for human friendship, and that is all it"s about. It has a kind of purity lớn it. Yes, it"s rated PG-13, and that"s the correct rating, I believe. It could inspire conversations between children and their parents about masturbation, loneliness, acceptance of unusual people, empathy.

We all know a few people who walk into a socially dangerous situation, size it up, & instantly know what lớn say & how to lớn set people at ease. My Aunt Martha could bởi vì that. She was a truth-teller, & all some situations need is for someone khổng lồ tell the truth, instead of pussy-footing around embarrassments. Consider, in this film, the neighbor named Mrs. Gruner (Nancy Beatty). She rises lớn the occasion in a way both tactful and heroic. While Gus is worried about what people will think, Mrs. Gruner (and Karin và Dagmar) are more concerned with what Lars is thinking.

As we watch this process, we glimpse Lars" inner world, one of hurt but also hidden hope. Nine actors out of 10 would have (rightly) turned down this role, suspecting it khổng lồ be a minefield of bad laughs. Gosling"s work here is a study in control of tone. He isn"t too morose, too strange, too opaque, too earnest. The word for his behavior, so strange khổng lồ the world, is serene. He loves his new friend, treats her courteously và expects everyone else to lớn give her the respect he does.

How this all finally works out is deeply satisfying. Only after the movie is over bởi you realize what a balancing act it was, what risks it took, what rewards it contains. A character says at one point that she has grown to like Bianca. So, heaven help us, have we.

If we can feel that way about a new car, why not about a lonely man"s way to lớn escape from sitting alone in the dark?