Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The Hidden Gem: Brilliant films you've probably never heard of... Lars and the Real Girl

Occasionally someone will speak fondly of a film you simply never knew existed, naturally sparking a curiosity. No matter how many films you’ve watched, there is always something out there waiting to be discovered. Even rarer, every now and then you hear about this one, amazing film you've never heard of, but simply must see. And yes, sometimes that film turns out to be a brilliant find, a treasure, and all the more sacred because the media haven't sniffed it out and smeared it over every medium possible.

Lars and the Real Girl is one such treasure. So obscure that when I mentioned it in a room of film academics, not one had heard of, let alone seen it, filling me with self indulging superiority.

The narrative follows Lars (Ryan Gosling), a man who finds visiting his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and wife Karin (Emily Mortimer) a mightily stressful task in itself. His social ineptitude is exacerbated at work with the awkward romantic tension between himself and co-worker Margo (Kelli Garner). Just as it would appear Lars isn’t capable of forging relationships, he finally alleviates solitude by ordering a sex doll; he names Bianca, to become his ‘girlfriend’ as well as love rival to Margo. Naturally, the reaction of the tight nit community is to question his emotional stability, but is the point where the film moves in a refreshing direction. Lars attempts to integrate himself and his unconventional lover into community events anticipating acceptance. Rather than have him thrown in the nearest mental asylum, the locals agree to play along with his delusion (somewhat reminisant of The Truman Show) and treat Bianca as a genuine member of the community.

Powerful and emotive at times, the story flows surprisingly well considering the slow pacing in a lengthy film where, to be honest, not a lot actually happens. Lars’ emotional journey is a satisfying one and as things progress, it becomes apparent that the focus is on how Lars understands and comes to terms with his personality disorder. Interestingly the film boldly suggests that the compassion and support of the people surrounding Lars is more effective than any medical solution.

Heart-warming and at times sad, with a contrast of quirky positivity, Lars and the Real Girl is a compelling and thought provoking film. Supported by a cleverly written script and more than adequate performances from Gosling and Mortimer, makes for an entertaining spectacle.

Now go watch it.

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Photos: Google Images
Sources: Internet Movie DataBase