Do not be alarmed if you throw up your hands at some point during Lars and the Real Girl and blurt out, ”These people are bonkers, and enablers, too!” The reaction is normal and doesn’t signify hardheartedness, even if this wee indie drama is being sold as a charming, oddball story of communal compassion. We’re asked to believe that Lars (Ryan Gosling) is a hardworking, church-going young man who’s so terrified of emotional or physical closeness that he introduces a sex doll as his mail-order girlfriend named Bianca. We’re also to believe that Bianca — clearly manufactured for less talkative pursuits — offers Lars companionable relief from crippling mental problems. And that his brother (Paul Schneider), his pregnant sister-in-law (Emily Mortimer), his fellow congregants, and, heck, the wise local doctor (Patricia Clarkson) collude in his delusion because, really, he’s such a good soul. Plus, it takes a village to populate a character-driven indie drama.
Really, I think we put up with Lars at all only because Gosling has such an affinity for the wounded boy birds he tends to play that it’s easy to watch him do his thing. He treats his silicone costar with great gentleness. But even his mad skills at embodying misfit masculinity can’t sustain the plastic premise. Will no one talk to Lars honestly about the pitfalls of dating a golem? C