"Margo: What are you doing Friday night?
Lars Lindstrom: I have a school board meeting. Bianca got elected, so... "
I had a vague idea how this film would flow based on the people involved. Knowing how deep Ryan Gosling can go into a role, and how seriously he takes his craft, it was obvious he would approach this unique role with sensitivity. Never did I imagine how sensitive the picture would end up being, or how much tenderness a subject like this could be handled with.
Director Craig Gillespie is a brave man. Opting for this story as his debut, he is going to be one to watch if this is anything to go by, although it seems he directed Mr Woodcock after this, so lets just hope he hasn't jumped at the first deal a major studio has given him. I personally would like to see more of the style he has shown here. If you have checked any reviews of this you will know that Gosling plays Lars, a quiet guy who, whilst very sweet, has no social skills at all, and finds it very hard to communicate with people. His immediate family struggle with this (he has lost his parents), so you can imagine the difficulty he has talking to girls. Lars lives in a small town where he is loved by all. They know exactly how to deal with him. Well, all except for his brother. Far from being intolerant, his brother just doesnt understand Lars, and Lars' next step baffles him even more. Lars orders a Real Doll from the internet.
Some of you may remember these from a few years ago when they launched. Howard Stern famously brought one into the studio whilst recording his radio show, even giving her a name and declaring his love for her. Lars goes down a similiar route, giving his doll, which he has named Bianca, all the attention he so far knows how to give. His sister-in-law Karin, played with real insight by Scottish actress Emily Mortimer, is the most concerned, yet she knows how to deal with him far better than his own brother does.
This is a film to watch if you've ever felt different, or if you have ever had trouble talking to people. You know who you are! I could certainly identify. I believe that Gillespie wanted to embrace the idiosyncracies that Lars shows and the townspeople's considered reactions to him rather than show a series of crass jokes or circumstances based on what your brain immediately tells you - "Oh. My. God!!" Everyone treats Bianca like she is a local. They talk to her, involve her in groups and accept her into their way of life. That is, until Lars starts to take Bianca for granted, at which point he learns a vauluable lesson in how to treat women.
Filled with fantastic performances, the film is dominated by Gosling's realisation of the inexperienced Lars. In keeping with my (crazy) theory that many lead actors and actresses say less than their supporting players, Gosling gives a measured, minimalist performance, never once allowing the character to get away from him. Aided by a great script by Nancy Oliver, who manages to avoid every potential stereotype and cliche, I guarantee you will be surprised by this. Oliver has penned a touching story about learning and growing, peppered with some real laughs. Apart from being a beautiful, surprising film, it solidifies Gosling's reputation as one of the most talented actors of his generation. I mean, the guy put on substantial weight to play the grieving father in Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, then pulled out at the last minute stating he was too young for the role. That would have been Oscar-time for sure.
So now all you have to do is rent Love Object and see how the same subject can be dealt with entirely differently...