Lars and the Real Girl

It’s always nice to stumble upon a movie and really like it. You know what I mean? You hadn’t planned on watching a movie, there’s not one that you’re just dying to see, so you go to the video store or you pull up the On Demand channel and just see what’s there. But even after you look at the options you can’t find anything that you were really wanting to see.

Rachel and I had that experience a while back with Lars and the Real Girl. This movie didn’t completely come out of nowhere for me. I remember that it was well received by critics and that it received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay and that Ryan Gosling was nominated for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Actor. In addition, it had been recommended by friends whose opinions I respect.

And still I wasn’t rushing out to see it. I think because I had misunderstood what it was about. I knew that it was about an awkward introvert (Lars/Ryan Gosling) who is so socially anxious and yet so lonely that he resorts to ordering a life-sized doll on the internet. I thought this was going to be some mad-cap comedy, a farce. I was wrong. What happens is extremely funny, but it’s also very moving and humane.

I don’t want to say much more about it other than the fact that Rachel and I both came away thinking it was one of the best movies we’d seen in a long time (particularly because it was such a surprise). I’ll give you time to see it and then I’ll say more.

The genius of the film is the way that “the real girl” actually becomes real and in the way that this small town reacts both to her and to Lars. I dare not say more, because it’s best seen for yourself. I’ll just say that there are lessons to be learned from this movie about kindness and compassion.

They may be lessons that are coming soon to a Sunday morning near you.