Lars and the Real Girl

Rated 2.0

A painfully withdrawn young man (Ryan Gosling) buys a sex-doll mannequin, introducing her as the “girlfriend” he met on the Internet; his brother (Paul Schneider), sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer), doctor (Patricia Clarkson) and the rest of their small town all go along with his delusion, hoping to help him through his troubles. Nancy Oliver’s script is offbeat, but actually rather touching. Unfortunately, director Craig Gillespie (Mr. Woodcock) bobbles it; he plays things for broad, easy laughs early on, before the characters and their relationships are even established, and when things turn poignant Gillespie hasn’t prepared us for the change in tone. A few rewrites might have helped, too; Oliver gives us little insight into Lars’ psyche (and relationship with his brother) until the film is half over.