Everyone involved in this film should be nominated for an Oscar, especially the writer, Nancy Oliver (of SIX FEET UNDER fame) and director, Craig Gillespie.
There's a lot of laughter provoking dialogue and scenes in this flick, and I laughed quite a bit, but I more often choked up.
Some people in the theater where I saw it in New Jersey, obviously didn’t get it, or it made them uncomfortable, or confused, or defensive, from the comments I heard and the nervous or inappropriate, mocking or condescending giggles and laughs and guffaws and snickers during the most poignant moments that brought tears to my eyes.
I’m sorry that some of these folks couldn’t open up to its simple message of, well, simply—love.
Hokey? Maybe. Contrived? Probably.
But, it struck a chord with me, and with the friend I saw it with, who has more experience with mental illness, like the kind portrayed in this film, than I do.
Ryan Gosling’s tics and mannerisms, the variety of ways he gave his character of comforting himself and repressing his fears and desires, the emotional range of his character’s volatility and suppression and resistance and confusion and need, is so richly expressed, my friend concluded Gosling must have conducted an intense study of someone with similar mental problems.
It’s the best performance I’ve seen this year. And there have been many performances I found terrific already in 2007.
Maybe there isn’t any real town as ideally old-style-small-community-caring like the one in LARS AND THE REAL GIRL. But I have experienced this kind of self-created community within the cities and towns I’ve lived in over my lifetime, in various ways, including among clan and neighborhood, or in circles of like-minded creative spirits or damaged souls or the physically and mentally challenged.
And given that experience, every last actor and actress in LARS AND THE REAL GIRL down to the day players with one line, or just a look in the background, every last one of them, was perfectly right for the scene, the story.
So far, in my pre-Oscar, way-too-early projections, I’m saying Amy Ryan in GONE BABY GONE deserves the best supporting actress award, and Hal Holbrook in INTO THE WILD the best supporting actor award.
But for best actor, Ryan Gosling’s the one in my book, despite other great performances including Emile Hirsch in INTO THE WILD.
Best actress, so far, is a tough one, with Tilda Swinton in MICHAEL CLAYTON having kicked major ass, but it also would be totally deserved by any of the three female leads in LARS AND THE REAL GIRL—Patricia Clarkson, Kelli Garner and Emily Mortimer—though I’m sure for at least two of them, if not all three, if they were to get nominated, it would be for best supporting actress, under the arcane categorizing system of the Academy.
The Oscars don’t give an award for best ensemble, but the Screen Actors Guild does, and my vote’s going to the cast of LARS AND THE NEW GIRL, so far, despite the almost equally perfect ensemble of INTO THE WILD.
All that silly competitive speculation aside, I just highly recommend this flick for anyone with an open heart. And to paraphrase Jon Hendriks—who wrote (as I remember it) “the mind is like a parachute, it functions better when it’s open”—I’d say a heart is too.