Tonight I saw Lars and the Real Girl, starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Mortimer.
How often do devastation and hilarity find themselves in the same movie? Seldom. But here, we have a glowing example.
Lars Lindstrom (Gosling) is a lonely, single man living in the garage of his family home, next door to his brother and sister-in-law, who reside in the same house. He makes his way through life devoid of affection, by choice, which his doting sister-in-law Karin (Mortimer) finds troubling.
He works in a generic office, with somewhat generic people, and despite the attempts of a co-worker, he doesn't date. In fact, he rarely leaves his home, save for work and church.
One day, his cubicle mate shows him a Web site that sells custom-made 'real' dolls. He promptly orders one and is soon introducing everyone to his new girlfriend, Bianca.
His brother is so immediately horrified by this development, he tricks Lars into a therapy appointment by alleging Bianca needs a check-up. The doctor, Dagmar (played expertly by Patricia Clarkson) concludes that the best way to handle this delusion is to play along with the relationship and treat Bianca as an actual girlfriend. They schedule regular appointments for the doll, claiming she needs 'treatments' and she uses the time to counsel Lars discreetly.
What results is a hilarious journey the whole town soon embarks on, complete with invented jobs (the mall needs mannequins; the hospital needs volunteers), social engagements (Bianca doesn't drink, but attends parties) and marital-like disputes.
The entire plot and execution is positively absurd, but for some reason, it works. Instead of the situation appearing creepy, it's endearing, and once we learn why Lars needs to soften his pain with the help of this fictional friend, we're compelled to root for him.
Anyone who has felt hollow or lacked companionship for any length of time with empathize with the sentiment; those who have never been alone will weep for those who are.
And aside from his appearance strangely resembling David Arquette, Ryan Gosling does an incredible job manipulating his mannerisms and his speech to pull off this character.
It's just amazing that the only Oscar this film is nominated for is the screenplay.