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 However, he reminds me of those self-absorbed, sexually confused artsy boys in high school who act socially withdrawn because they are immature cowards- NOT mentally ill.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:


Anonymous said...

I love the video you posted for LATRG Part 2! Too creepy! Full disclosure: I have not seen the film, though two or three issues look like they wouldn't be dealt with in a satisfactory way: What is the specific nature of the relationship Lars "creates" with the doll? Is Lars mentally ill, like, for real? Does he eventually see a therapist or take medication, which can result in weight gain, numbness, excessive drooling, attention problems? Oh yeah, mental illness isn't sexy. It's not merely edgy or a subversive topic. It is a fucking paradigm-shifter. If an adult is carrying around a doll and pretending it is a girlfriend; there is a problem. Also, I get a bad feeling that this film may have the "Garden State"-problem; upon a cursory or hangover-infused viewing of said film, it may seem vivid and slightly original, until the viewer realizes (or the booze wears off) the movie is in fact, a series of quirky images strung together with good songs written by real artists to create a feeling which could not be done with dialogue. If this is executed well and consistently, we call it film noir. If it is a thin and hollow puppet-show of real life, i call it Natalie Portman in a helmet. Look! Ryan Gosling driving a car with a blow-up doll in the passenger seat! How crazy! -Norah

Tess Osborne said...

To answer your question- Lars ends up seeing a therapist (who doubles as the town M.D.), but only under the guise of "waiting for Bianca (sex doll) to finish resting after her treatment."
So he is tricked into seeing her. And the treatment consists of her touching him like he's a wild stallion because human touch feels like "burning" to him. I'm not even kidding.

The possibility of Lars being sick is never mentioned to him directly...just whispered about by the townspeople.

And, yes- it does suffer from the "Garden State"-problem; but imagine that every single character is "Natalie Portman in a helmet."

THAT is this movie...

P.S. How great is that song in the video?