Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

18 November 2007

Ryan Gosling and the Blow-up Doll

Craig Gillespie's Lars and the Real Girl is—dare I say it?—a heartwarming film about a boy who deludes himself into believing that an anatomically correct and very life-like sex doll is his disabled girlfriend whom he met over the internet. I liked this film. It's funny and sweet and has a couple of really great scenes. It's blackly humorous and resists being sentimental with all its might. It doesn't really succeed at this last goal, but it tries very hard and for that I give it lots of credit. The actors are wonderful: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider (a new favorite of mine), and the always dependable and excellent Patricia Clarkson. It's, as you might imagine, a very cleverly written piece of work, penned by former "Six Feet Under" scribe Nancy Oliver.
And finally the film is about growing up, letting go of our fears of being children, and what it means to become a man. A passage from I Corinthians read near the end of the film was a perfect fit and I thought it resonated nicely:
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

If I think about the film too hard, though, the whole thing becomes a little sinister. This boy creates a woman for himself in order to escape dealing with his family, sex and growing up. In a sense, he is always in control of this phony woman. Still, Lars and the Real Girl is really sweet and the performances and very smart script make it worth seeing. Gillespie handles the comedy deftly, and it finally becomes rather difficult not to feel some affection for the doll. She means so much to him and we become so fond of him, that is difficult to resist.