Where Dead Man’s Bones easily spirits away any number of ghoulish references or macabre visual sensibilities, Lars and the Real Girl has a sort of creepy gimmick about it a well.
Immediately, the film works towards asserting Lars (Gossling) as the character in which viewers need to place not only interest, but hope. He’s all alone – perhaps self imposed solitude, but solitude nonetheless. Watching Lars’ sister in law shuffle across the frozen yard in hope of enticing him to dinner sets up the sad-sack character. But so too do the office scenes, where Lars and his cubicle buddy don’t seem to share anything in common.
Lars isn’t ostracized, he just doesn’t go in for the small take of normalcy. Who can blame him? Those conversations are some of the most daunting and horrific moments of office/school life. But while he’s repeatedly forced to interact with those that he only has the loosest interest in, the character finds solace in attending church.
In a great many cases, this particular facet of a character’s life may have come off as critical or cheese-ball. But the soft spoken Lars seems most comfortable in the company of the congregation. And even if a woman from his office belongs to the same church and tries to chat him up every week, it seems a far sight better than water-cooler chit chat.
Eventually, though, either the loneliness or the craziness gets to Lars and the character orders a life size, plastic woman to parade around as his girlfriend. The rest of the film finds Lars and his silicon mate being accepted into various town functions and meetings only to conclude in a surreal break up with the non-human-being girlfriend.
There’s redemption and the like in spades by the end of the film – so it doesn’t escape my initial figuring of Lars and the Real Girl as a date move - but there’re enough weirdo situations and conversations as to make it palatable, if not just poorly paced.
Shockingly, though, this film which centers on a man’s devotion to an inanimate object predated Gossling wrangling his ghoul fixation into a musical context. So, even as viewers aren’t ever shown Lars scoring, maybe we can hope for some necrophilia styled lyrics from Dead Man’s Bones in the future.