Given its offbeat premise — shy, delusional, small-town bachelor Lars (Ryan Gosling) buys a life-size, anatomically correct woman on the internet and proceeds to pass “her” off as his wheelchair-bound girlfriend Bianca — Lars and the Real Girl could easily emerged simply as a lascivious sex movie.
That it does not is a tribute to all concerned in making this witty absurdist comedy. The underlying story of a sad misfit trying to fit into what he sees as a hostile environment is moving and, surprisingly in the context of the plot, emotionally credible.
Patricia Clarkson is outstanding as the sympathetic psychiatrist who treats Lars, while Ryan Gosling is outstanding as the painfully shy protagonist, once again proving his versatility as an actor, rather than as a star.
And Craig Gillespie’s unshowy but apt direction never puts a frame wrong in bringing Nancy Oliver’s clever screenplay to entertaining life.