Lars and the Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl Information

Lars and the Real Girl is a 2007 American-Canadian comedy-drama film written by Nancy Oliver and directed by Craig Gillespie. It stars Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Kelli Garner and Patricia Clarkson. The film follows Lars (Gosling), a sweet yet quirky, socially inept young man, who develops a romantic relationship with an anatomically correct sex doll, a "RealDoll" named Bianca, and the story of how his older brother (Schneider), his brother's wife (Mortimer), and the rest of the small town grow to accept and welcome Bianca into the community for Lars' sake, not realizing that she would touch all of their lives in such a profound way.

Despite not earning back its initial budget in theatrical release, Lars and the Real Girl was critically acclaimed. It earned an Academy Award nomination for "Best Writing (Original Screenplay)", while Gosling received a Golden Globe Award nomination for "Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy" and a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role".


Lars Lindstrom lives in the converted garage behind the house he and his brother Gus inherited from their late father. Karin, Lars's pregnant sister-in-law's persistent attempts to lure him into the house for a family meal are usually rebuffed, and on the rare occasions he accepts, their conversation is stilted and he seems eager to leave as soon as he can. The young man finds it difficult to interact with or relate to his family, co-workers, or fellow parishioners in the church he regularly attends. Margo, Lars's co-worker, is clearly interested in him, but Lars runs silently from her at every chance he gets.

One day Lars happily announces to Gus and Karin he has a visitor he met via the Internet, a wheelchair-bound missionary of Brazilian and Danish descent named Bianca. The two are startled to discover Bianca is, in fact, a lifelike doll Lars ordered from an adult website. Concerned about his mental health, they convince Lars to take Bianca to Dagmar, the family doctor who is also a psychologist. Dagmar diagnoses Bianca with low blood pressure and advises Lars he needs to bring her in for weekly treatments, during which she will attempt to analyze him and get to the root of his behavior. She explains to Gus and Karin that this is a delusion of his own creation and for his own reason and purpose, and she urges them to assist with Lars's therapy by treating Bianca as if she were a real woman.

It is discovered during the course of the film that Lars's mother died during his birth, causing his father to change dramatically. These issues pushed Gus to leave home as soon as possible, leaving Lars to deal with a distant, heartbroken father alone. This also gives Lars an almost debilitating fear of having children that even Dagmar can't calm easily. Although Lars is responsible in every sense of the word for himself and now Bianca, his pain and discomfort is evidenced by the baby blanket he carries in almost every scene and the fact that he refuses any kind of intimacy, including touch. Bianca sleeps alone in "the pink room" (a guest room in the house), while Lars still sleeps in the converted garage.

As time passes, Lars begins to introduce Bianca as his girlfriend to his co-workers and various townspeople. Due to their care and concern for Lars, everyone treats Bianca as a real person, and she soon finds herself involved in volunteer programs, getting a makeover from the local beautician, and working part-time as a model in a clothing store. Due to their acceptance of Bianca, Lars soon finds himself interacting more with people. During this time Margo has begun to date another co-worker, which over time begins to seemingly bother Lars.

Lars has a conversation with his brother during which he asks when he knew he had become a man and what being a man means. His brother's explanation seems to reach Lars and his dependence on Bianca seems to immediately shift.

At work when a co-worker with whom Margo has been playing pranks goes a bit too far, Lars comforts her. During the ensuing conversation, Margo reveals she has broken up with her boyfriend. She invites Lars to go bowling, to which he responds that he has to take Bianca to a school-board meeting that same evening. He accepts after mentioning that he can drop her off then go to the bowling alley; the two spend a pleasant evening together along with some other townsfolk. During an uncomfortable silence at the evening's end Lars is quick to remind Margo he could never cheat on Bianca. Although obviously disappointed, Margo replies that the thought never crossed her mind. As they part ways, Lars takes his glove off to shake Margo's hand and they have a moment when their hands are clasped.

One morning soon after, Lars announces that Bianca is unresponsive, and she is rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Once there, he tells his family the prognosis is not good and that Bianca would like to be brought home. The news spreads through town, and everyone whose life has been touched by Bianca sends flowers or sits with Lars at the Lindstrom home. Gus and Karin ask Dagmar why this is happening, and she reveals that it is all Lars's own doing. They suggest that Lars and Bianca join them for a visit to the lake. While the couple is hiking, Lars kisses Bianca for the first time. As Gus and Karin make their way back from the hike, they discover despondent Lars in the lake with a 'dying' Bianca.

Bianca is given a funeral, which all the townspeople attend. After Bianca is buried, Lars and Margo linger at the grave site, and his acceptance of his past has made him a whole man. When Margo states that she should catch up with everyone else, Lars asks her to take a walk with him, an offer she happily accepts.


  • Ryan Gosling as Lars Lindstrom
  • Emily Mortimer as Karin Lindstrom
  • Paul Schneider as Gus Lindstrom
  • R. D. Reid as Reverend Bock
  • Kelli Garner as Margo
  • Nancy Beatty as Mrs. Gruner
  • Doug Lennox as Mr. Hofstedtler
  • Joe Bostick as Mr. Shaw
  • Liz Gordon as Mrs. Schindler
  • Nicky Guadagni as Mrs. Petersen
  • Patricia Clarkson as Dagmar
  • Karen Robinson as Cindy
  • Maxwell McCabe-Lokos as Kurt
  • Billy Parrott as Erik
  • Sally Cahill as Deb
  • Angela Vint as Sandy
  • Liisa Repo-Martell as Laurel
  • Boyd Banks as Russell
  • Darren Hynes as Moose
  • Víctor Gómez as Hector
  • Tommy Chang as Nelson
  • Arnold Pinnock as Baxter
  • Joshua Peace as Jerry
  • Aurora Browne as Lisa
  • Alec McClure as Steve
  • Tannis Burnett as Nurse Amy
  • Lauren Ash as Holly
  • Lindsey Connell as Victoria


In The Real Story of Lars and the Real Girl, a special feature on the DVD release of the film, screenwriter Nancy Oliver reveals the inspiration for her script was an actual website,, which is featured prominently in the film.

The film, set in the American state of Wisconsin, was filmed with a US$12 million budget on location in Alton, Elora, King Township, Toronto, Uxbridge, and Whitevale, all of which are located in the Canadian province of Ontario. Film credits include Rosalie MacKintosh as "Bianca wrangler" and Karly Bowen as "assistant Bianca wrangler."


The film premièred at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2007 before going into limited release in the U.S. on October 12, 2007. It initially opened on seven screens in New York City, New York; and Los Angeles, California, and earned $90,418 on its opening weekend. It later expanded to 321 theaters and remained in release for 147 days, earning $5,972,884 domestically and $5,320,639 in foreign markets for a worldwide box-office total of $11,293,663.

The film was featured at the Austin Film Festival, the Heartland Film Festival, the Torino Film Festival, the Glasgow Film Festival, and the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival.

Critical reception

The film received positive reviews from critics. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 81% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 134 reviews with the consensus stating "Lars and the Real Girl could've so easily been a one-joke movie. But the talented cast, a great script, and direction never condescends to its character or the audience." On Metacritic, the film has an average score of 70 out of 100, based on 32 reviews.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times observed, "The film wisely never goes for even one moment that could be interpreted as smutty or mocking. There are so many ways [it] could have gone wrong that one of the film's fascinations is how adroitly it sidesteps them. Its weapon is absolute sincerity. It has a kind of purity to it."

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle called the film "a gentle comedy, offbeat but never cute, never lewd and never going for shortcut laughs that might diminish character."

Manohla Dargis of The New York Times said, "American self-nostalgia is a dependable racket, and if the filmmakers had pushed into the realm of nervous truth, had given Lars and the town folk sustained shadows, not just cute tics and teary moments, it might have worked. Instead the film is palatable audience bait of average accomplishment that superficially recalls the plain style of Alexander Payne, but without any of the lacerating edges or moral ambiguity."

Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times described it as "the sweetest, most innocent, most completely enjoyable film around," "a film whose daring and delicate blend of apparent irreconcilables will sweep you off your feet if you're not careful. The creators of this film were fiercely determined not to go so much as a millimeter over the line into sentiment, tawdriness or mockery. It's the rare film that is the best possible version of itself, but Lars fits that bill."

Lou Lumenick of the New York Post awarded the film three out of four stars, calling it "an offbeat comedy that plays as if Preston Sturges came back to life and collaborated with the Coen Brothers on an updated version of the Jimmy Stewart film Harvey (1950). He added the script "eschews cheap laughs for character-driven humanist comedy, and is sensitively directed by Craig Gillespie."

Alissa Simon of Variety stated, "Craig Gillespie's sweetly off-kilter film plays like a Coen brothers riff on Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon tales, defying its lurid premise with a gentle comic drama grounded in reality ... what's fresh and charming is the way the characters surrounding the protagonist also grow as they help him through his crisis."

The film has received favorable reviews from Christian faith-based media, and has been recommended as an instructional tool and a means for opening a dialogue on tolerance.

Nominations and awards

  • Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) (nominee)
  • Golden Globe Award for Best Actor " Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Ryan Gosling, nominee)
  • Satellite Award for Best Picture – Musical or Comedy (nominee)
  • Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Ryan Gosling, winner)
  • Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy (Emily Mortimer, nominee)
  • Satellite Award for Best Original Screenplay (nominee)
  • Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Ryan Gosling, nominee)
  • Writers Guild of America Award for Best Original Screenplay (nominee)
  • National Board of Review Awards 2007 Top Ten Film Finalist
  • National Board of Review Award for Best Original Screenplay (winner, tied with Juno)
  • Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor (Ryan Gosling, nominee)
  • BFCA Critics' Choice Award for Best Writer (nominee)
  • Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor (Ryan Gosling, nominee)
  • Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Director (nominee)
  • Humanitas Prize (winner, tied with The Diving Bell and the Butterfly)

See also

  • 2007 in film

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