I resisted Lars and his not-so-real girl for a long time. Partly, I was intrigued because I dig Ryan Gosling but upon hearing details, it sounded lackluster.
I jumped in and it was surprisingly good...not what I was expecting. Both funny and touching. Lars (Ryan Gosling) is a loner. He avoids people contact and rarely speaks. His brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law Karin (Emily Mortimer) worry about him. Karin often invites him to join them for dinner. When Lars does accept, he eats in silence and rushes off as quickly as possible.
(Spoiler Alert: Read at Your Own Risk!)
One day, Lars announces his desire to bring his new girlfriend over to meet them. Gus and especially Karin are overjoyed. When Lars introduces Bianca, Karin and Gus are horrified to learn that she is a life-sized doll. She looks like a high-end blow-up doll and she comes with a history--she sires from Brazil. Lars wheels her around in a wheelchair. He engages in one-sided conversations with her and appears smitten. The relatives freak out. Convinced Lars is crazy, they take him to see Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson), a psychologist, and she determines that Lars is in a delusional state. The only way to help him is to accept Bianca and go along with his delusion that she's real. Reluctantly, they do and the town follows.
The movie plays like a fairy tale or a metaphor. The town treats Bianca like one of its own. The movie doesn't take cheap shots or become predictable. Small details are offered to try and explain why Lars might be experiencing this. Gosling does an incredible job. He's believable and sympathetic as Lars. There is one scene that pushed the boundaries of ridiculous though (one night Lars is practically hysterical when he finds Bianca won't wake from her slumber. Lars starts panicking. In desperation, Karin screams, "call 911!" They do and Bianca is taken to the hospital via ambulance. She's wheeled in and Dagmar is there waiting to talk to Lars but this was too much. I kept thinking, there's no way this understanding little town is gonna be okay footing the bill for that ER run!).
Lars starts working through the Bianca situation when he's faced with his conflicting feelings for Margo (Kelli Garner). This and the support he receives from the understanding little Northern town helps him deal with the uncertain future of Lars and Bianca.
Themes: mental illness/delusion, brother-brother relationships, love
Director: Craig Gillespie