Thursday, January 7, 2010

Lars and the Real Girl: After (Thank God it's Over!)

I know I'm stubborn and self-righteous. But I love a good debate. I married a man who's razor-sharp wit and intelligence can overturn my lifelong convictions. Sometimes, I like being proved wrong. It gives me hope that there is always more to learn.

Well, no such luck on LATRG. Just as I thought, it was another quirky, twee, indie darling with no real value and actors who are encouraged to condescend low enough to portray Middle America.

"Midwestern Life or Country Living?"
*sex doll says nothing*
"I would have chosen the same thing," Gosling says as he lovingly hands his wheelchair bound sex doll a copy of Country Living.

Ryan Gosling was so, very pleased with himself...all bundled up in that rosette-smattered baby blanket that he couldn't pull out of his mouth.

I understand what the writer/director were trying to do here:

This Lars fellow lost his mother while she gave birth to him. His older brother is freaked out by the grief of his father and skips town as soon as he can. Lars is raised on his own by a sad widower (although they never really go into detail about what kind of upbringing he had- a gross oversight considering we are supposed to sympathize with the outcome of such an upbringing). Father dies. Brother and sister-in-law move back. They are happy. Lars is weird. Sister-in-law gets pregnant.

Lars thinks, "Oh dear. My brother's wife being pregnant is bringing up all these issues I have of about my mother's death. It highlights my need for maternal love from a female. I'll order a sex doll."

Then, as a concerned reaction, the community pulls together and gives Lars a version of that maternal love that he needs so much. I get it, but I don't like it.

I think what this does, instead of uplifting the community, is perpetuate the misled sympathy of our culture toward irresponsible, childish men.

Perhaps I'd think more deeply about Lars' psychotic behavior if he were actually given characteristics of a man that is mentally ill. However, he reminds me of those self-absorbed, sexually confused artsy boys in high school who act socially withdrawn because they are immature cowards- NOT mentally ill.

I also found Gosling's portrayal inconsistent and unconvincing. He can only pretend to be completely unattractive for so long. There were quite a few moments where he gave out those steamy, leading-man glances that we all love so much. I wish someone like Paul Giamatti had played Lars. Now THAT is one unattractive method actor.

And now, for your enjoyment, a preview for Lars and the Real Girl Part 2:

Lars and the Real Girl: Before...

If anyone reading these words has previously been subjected to my film reviews, you might have noticed a slightly worn thread of feminist thought woven throughout. This time is no exception.

I am just over an hour shy of my first viewing of "Lars and the Real Girl," a film I have avoided since its 2007 release. I am going at the behest of my sister in law, a fan of the film and a very convincing one at that.

I remember seeing the preview for the first time...Ryan Gosling in shabby-chic (not the Rachel Ashwell sort...the Rivers Cuomo sort) cardigan and glasses...introverted and weird, yet still sexy. So this guy is so desperate for a woman that he latches onto a real doll? The kind that I have seen on late-night HBO sex shows where creepy basement-dwellers twiddle a rubber clitoris to elicit the doll's robotically shuddering orgasm? It's just one knife shy of Buffalo Bill.

Moving on...then the preview introduces the big-hearted quirky family and townspeople who, although concerned about Ryan Gosling's delusion, just want to make him (and his "girlfriend") feel accepted.

"Welcome, Rubber Doll! Nice fishnets!"

Now...I'm told by previously mentioned sister-in-law that this is the whole point...that real girls are better than rubber dolls.

I don't know where to begin.

1. There is something strangely reminiscent of Tiger Beat heartthrob publicity in this film/message. Ryan Gosling is a sex symbol. Girls dream about him. Girls who are plain and live a million miles away want to be with him. So his portrayal of a man who goes from plastic Playboy sex doll to one who realizes that women with brains are more his type reminds me of Jonathan Brandis saying he likes girls who can "pig out on a cheeseburger," causing millions of prepubescent girls to gain 5 pounds of hope.

2. I can't stand that simpering anorexic Emily Mortimer. She's one of those "method actors," and I can just see her bursting with pride in her big burgundy sweater as she exercises her way into the role of a Midwestern townie.

3. I have to go watch this now...more to come