It would seem Ryan Gosling is in a serious state of regression.
Three years ago, when audiences took notice of him in “The Notebook,” he was falling madly in love with cuter-than-cute Rachel McAdams.
Today, he’s been smitten with a doll.
And not a doll, as in the Rat Pack vernacular, “Hey, look at that beautiful doll over there with the gorgeous gams.” No, we’re talking the blow-up kind you order from the back-page classifieds of Hustler magazine.
Have no worries; Gosling’s not going perv on us. He plays a lonely, emotionally dysfunctional office worker in “Lars and the Real Girl,” one of the best indie films to come around this year — it’s also a film that may make Gosling an Oscar contender once again.
As Gosling plays him, Lars’ character has deep psychological issues that go on way underneath the surface — feelings of abandonment, distrust and a severe inability to connect with others.
Finally, and out of nowhere, Lars orders Bianca (a blow-up doll) off the Internet and takes her everywhere — to church, shopping, out to dinner with friends. But while it would easy to mock him for his quiet and shy new girlfriend, Lars’ brother and sister-in law, and tight-knit community, support both him and his new lady friend.
They see Lars not as a guy who needs to be ridiculed, but rather a person who needs their unwavering support.
Under the guidance of director Craig Gillespie and writer Nancy Oliver, Gosling choose to play Lars as extremely sympathetic. Certainly the character’s personality could’ve certainly gone in another, and much darker, direction.
“I admire Lars,” says Gosling, who was nominated last year as a drug-addicted teacher in “Half Nelson.” “Even though he’s a very lonely person, he doesn’t make a choice to be loved; he makes a choice to love something. I like the idea that you can love something and it doesn’t necessarily have to love you back. It doesn’t need to be a transaction. You can just give.”
While his “Believer” character, Danny Balint, was difficult to stomach, Gosling’s portrayal left no doubt that the young actor — who had immersed himself completely into the role — had an enormous future ahead of him, one that has now brought him to “Lars.”
His performance here is so spot-on that even co-star Emily Mortimer watches him in a state of wonder and awe.
“Ryan is just extraordinary,” she said. “He works really hard and is completely devoted. He watches himself on the monitor after each take. Me, I avoid everybody that’s watching me do my thing. I wish I were as brave as him.”