I must confess to a minor addiction to on-demand cable — all those movies, just waiting, for free. (Well, free if you pay for premium cable, which I’m sorry to say that I do, simply because I wanted to see Mikhail Baryshnikov in “Sex and the City” on HBO rather a while ago and never cancelled it, though I should.) But it’s a nice chance to discover something I missed, or rewatch something good from a few years back. Last night, I re-watched “Lars and the Real Girl,” one of my favorites from 2007. Did you see it? It’s an absolutely charming movie, all the more so for being about something that doesn’t sound charming at all: A small-town young man (Ryan Gosling), shy and emotionally stunted, orders a lifesized doll off the Internet and falls in love with her. Gradually, the whole town does too.
I’m not sure why this movie didn’t find a wider audience (though it didn’t go entirely unnoticed; screenwriter Nancy Oliver received an Oscar nomination). It’s filled with small pleasures, particularly in its performances: Patricia Clarkson’s dry wisdom; Emily Mortimer’s sad-voiced sweetness; Paul Schneider’s loving frustration; and most of all Gosling’s achingly boyish love for Bianca, the doll. Watch this scene, in which he tells his excited brother and sister-in-law (who’ve been worried about him spending too much time alone), that he’s finally met a girl:
Is he crazy? Or does love just come in many forms? Watch “Lars and the Real Girl” and find out; you’ll be glad of it.