March 31, 2009

NetPix: Lars & The Real Girl

Ever since I was in film school, people have been asking me what movies they should see. Lately this question has evolved into friends looking for films for their NetFlix queue. of the semi-regular features I'll be doing is "NetPix", where I tell you what you should see and, hopefully, you heed my advice and love my recommendations. If not, it's Netflix so it's not like you're out 12 bucks or anything!

My inaugural "NetPix" is a movie that ended up on my own queue reluctantly; "Lars And The Real Girl". I h
ad heard about when it was released as it received some pretty decent notices and awards nominations. Still,I was wary of "Lars" premise, about a guy in a small town who starts dating a full-size, human sex doll. The whole thing sounded a little twee. (Does anyone use that word anymore?)

Well, I was completely wrong. "Lars" is a total trifecta hit; gorgeously shot, beautifully acted,and sharply written. It's a sweet and quirky story that is actually a bit more complicated than I expected it to be, probably due to the lightweight impression created by its TV commercials. (I think that, as a rule, good movies do not boil down into good 30-second TV ads.) "Lars" works so well because it takes its premise, that Ryan Gosling has fallen for a fake girlfriend, quite seriously. There is some real psychology in the movie explaining this phenomenon,presented credibly by Patricia Clarkson's smokey-voiced local doctor. But "Lars" does have a sense of humor too. In fact, it is quite funny as it delicately walks that very fine line between silly and sad.

I'm surprised the film did not get some more serious juice around awards time. Maybe if "Juno" (which gave quirky a bad name) hadn't taken up all the awards oxygen in '08, this lovely little movie could have breathed a bit more and taken home some honors. But, in the end it's still a damn good movie. And if it doesn't make you a little weepy (in a good way!), your tear ducts may need to be checked.