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Lars and the Real Girl (DVD)

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Genre: Romance / Theatrical Release: 2007 / Director: Craig Gillespie / Actors: Ryan Gosling, Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider (IV), Kelli Garner, Patricia Clarkson ... / DVD released 2008-04-15 at MGM / Features of the DVD: AC-3, Colour, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC

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      18.02.2014 15:06
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      A tale of loneliness & bravery, as told with the help of a life-size doll.

      I came across this whilst browsing IMDB and noticed it stars Ryan Gosling, so I was curious to see what it was about. Without reading in to it too much, or reading in depth in to the reviews, I was expecting something a little unusual but a good watch, given as that lots of people rated it 4-5. Whilst it wasn't particularly energetic as far as films go, it was a bit different to the norm and watchable, leaving me remembering bits of it after the movie was over.

      This was directed by Craig Gillespie, who has worked on a couple of things but nothing I recognise prior to this, so Lars and The Real Girl may be his first big piece. I'd say it falls within the comedy / drama genres, though tilting slightly towards the latter. Despite it being a 2008 release, which may seem a little dated to some now, I still consider it to be relatively recent so I was surprised I hadn't heard of it before. It's actually noted to be an 'offbeat comedy' in one blurb online, but I found it accidentally whilst looking to see what else Gosling had been in prior to the big blockbusters of late.

      We're introduced to Lars Lindstrom, a very shy guy working in an office, who seems to keep himself to himself. When not busy with the 9-5 mudane job, he seems to squirrel himself away at home and has little in the way of outside interests or a social network. He does, however, live nearby his brother Gus and sister-in-law Karin, both of whom seem keen to try to include him in their plans and see him be a little more sociable. When a colleague mentions some realistic dolls he's seen online, Lars seems to ignore the comment. However, having given some thought to these life-size dolls, he puts in an order. Not long after, 'Bianca' arrives, neatly packaged in a cardboard box and ready to become Lar's new girlfriend.

      So, here we have a shy introvert who has just taken on a doll as a girlfriend. She looks pretty real, with her plastic face made up and her hair long and feminine. Lars starts to treat her like a real girl, hence the film's title, and in doing so decides to take a leap of faith and introduce her to others. He tells Gus and Karin he has a new girlfriend that he'd like to take to dinner at theirs, to which they're delighted. Of course, when he turns up with a doll, their expressions change. It's strange, yes, but it's also a little worrying for them. Has Gus' brother finally just lost his mind? They decide to play the game and indulge Lars a little, but not too much at first. They take 'Bianca' to the doctors, where the doctor actually spends time with Lars, acting as his confidante and psychiatrist without him realising.

      As time goes by, 'Bianca' becomes a staple in Lars' life. He treats her as if she were real, eventually bringing her along to meet his colleages and going to parties with her. It's clear that not only does he feel deep affection for his non-living girlfriend, but that she's helping him to come out of his shell by being at his side. The rest of the film sees how this development is seen and responded to by others in Lars' life, and how the introduction of a real girl, Margo, affects Lars. The question is, assuming this 'relationship' can't continue indefinitely, can those who love and support Lars help him to move away from 'Bianca' and get the balance right by accepting her and indulging in his fantasy?

      The premise is quite original; at least, I've not seen anything too similar before. It's an interesting concept to see played out on the screen and to see the angle the writers and directors decided to take it in. It's obviously sculpted so as to provide a bit of a moral undercurrent throughout, and give viewers a sense of a 'lesson learned' by the end of it. It made me think and it made me also wonder how I'd react in that situation if I were his sister in law, his brother or his friend.

      The cast includes Ryan Gosling (as protagonist Lars Lindstrom), Paul Schneider (brother Gus), Emily Mortimer (sister-in-law Karin) and Patricia Clarkson (doctor Dagmar) amongst others. The cast played their respective characters well, being quite realistic and evoking the desired responses from me as a viewer. I didn't feel that Gosling necessarily made a striking impact as Lars, however his more subtle approach to it was quite understated and seemed to work well, adding to the overall feel of the film being quite modest.

      Talking of understated, Lars and The Real Girl didn't have any of the Hollywood sparkles you may anticipate, especially given the star of the show, which I was glad to see. It felt quite raw, nothing too flashy or expensive in terms of set or effects, and this generated a more down-to-earth and realistic vibe to the whole thing. It felt a bit dated, but not overly so, meaning it still felt relatable and of decent quality, despite there being no fireworks or anything that really hits you in the face with amazingness.

      Watching this flick, I got the sense of it being a tad slow. Granted, it's a drama, but the pace is kept quite stable and like a gentle trot throughout. I wouldn't have minded feeling a bit more energy at points. As for the comedy, perhaps it was just me but I didn't really notice much. The whole doll-for-a-girlfriend aspect isn't really of comedy value, and is instead the leading reason for this being a drama. It's what fuels the desire to understand Lars, to imagine how he feels, to discover how difficult it is for him to move on from Bianca now that he's found someone to be at his side. So in terms of it being a comedy, I just couldn't really see it myself.

      This is one I'd recommend if you're feeling in the mood for something quite understated and thoughtful, but not in a complicated way. It's actually very easy to watch in the sense that it doesn't require much thought, but I would think that some may find it quite dull and boring in parts. Stick with it, however, and you'll get a quirky premise and some good acting to help pull it through.

      DVD released 2008, running time 106 minutes, rated Certificate 12.
      Selling on Amazon for £6.54.

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      07.10.2010 22:36
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      Plastic Love

      When Lars Lindstrom's father passes away, he returns to the family home with his brother Gus and sister-in-law Karin. Rather than take up residency in the main house, Lars opts to take over the garage and leads an increasingly insular lifestyle, much to the concern of his brother's wife, Karin. Despite her best attempts to involve him in meal times and other events, Lars does everything he can to avoid them and becomes more and more shy and withdrawn. Then, one day an enormous parcel arrives for Lars, and everything changes.

      Karin and Gus first realise something has changed when Lars appears at their door and announces that he has a female visitor. Unexpectedly delighted, Karin invites them over but neither she nor Gus is prepared for the arrival of Bianca. Despite Lars vivid descriptions of what she likes/dislikes and can/not do, the young couple is utterly bemused when Lars finally introduces them and they discover that Bianca is an adult sex doll, purchased online. After the immediate shock, they find themselves faced with a moral dilemma. How do they convince Lars that Bianca isn't actually real - and more to the point, should they? And what on EARTH will the rest of the town say when they see Lars and his new girlfriend?

      When you read the plot summary for Lars and the Real Girl, you could be forgiven for thinking that you are about to watch some kind of Farrelly Brothers gross-out, farcical comedy. It's hard to imagine exactly what else a writer could do with a tale of a delusional young man who finds love with an Internet doll. It's not until you actually watch the film that you foolishly realise how stupid you were. Lars and the Real Girl, a big favourite with the independent film festivals in 2008, is likely to be one of the quirkiest, most curious and, above all, most moving dramas you'll find for a very long time.

      There were so many predictable routes down which this film could have headed. In the face of what appears to be utter lunacy, you'd expect a story that depicts the cruelty of society against somebody they just don't understand. You'd expect most, if not all, of the humour to be directed at Lars, with one situation after another where his predicament becomes increasingly surreal. You'd probably imagine the torment and anguish of an otherwise lonely individual who cannot understand why people don't see Bianca the way that he does. You'd probably also expect something moderately preachy, something that carries a message about tolerance and acceptance of people who just happen to be 'different'.

      Screenwriter Nancy Oliver largely avoids all of these avenues. Unsurprisingly, people are initially sceptical of Lars's new situation but thereafter Lars and the Real girl becomes a strangely absorbing and affectionate story about love and happiness. The immediate curveball that knocks the audience sideways is the reaction of Lars friends and family to his new situation, which develops into a strikingly emotional story that sort of creeps up unexpectedly on the viewer. This isn't really a comedy. Very little is played for laughs, aside from some quirky dialogue and some initial situational material, but thereafter it's strangely purposeful. Like all the very best films, there's a narrative journey here, full of emotional experiences that carries the viewer gently along to a startlingly moving and richly satisfying conclusion.

      Set in the middle of a sleepy, snow-filled American town, Lars and The Real Girl makes every attempt to be unassuming from the outset. Social stereotypes are consciously avoided. Where every expectation is that Lars will be a figure of derision and contempt, quite the opposite is actually the fact and it quickly becomes clear that the townsfolk love him. In many ways, that's exactly what Lars and The Real Girl is all about. It's about love. It's about the way in which you look after each other when things aren't so good. It's about GENUINELY accepting people who are different. It's about finding love in the strangest of places. It's reaffirming stuff.

      But that doesn't mean that Oliver has schmaltzed her way through a sickly, sentimental and over-emotional tale. She doesn't shirk any of the obvious issues here. The reaction of Lars's family is immediately one of shock and concern. Gus believes that his brother is completely insane and his immediate thoughts are of seeking medical help. Oliver doesn't disguise the fact that Lars is probably suffering a mental health issue, but nor does she opt to get the characters wringing their hands. Through the eyes and advice of the family doctor, Gus and Karin have to learn to support Lars in a different way, and if that means going along with his delusion, then that's a necessary evil that they must confront.

      This is a large part of the whole purpose of Lars and the Real Girl. Whereas other comedies might be accused of poking fat at and/or patronising the whole issue of mental health, Lars and the Real Girl confronts perceptions in an entirely different way. The way in which the townsfolk accept (and in reality embrace) Bianca into their lives catalyses a series of events that speeds Lars along on an unpredictable emotional journey. In many ways, the fact that Bianca isn't actually a real person doesn't make any difference to the outcome. The issues facing Lars and his girlfriend are representative of countless other 'real' couples. Jealousy, insecurity, doubt and pride are all new experiences for Lars and it's testament to the writer that the film conveys them in such a sensitive manner. Indeed. When Gus first points out to the doctor that Bianca isn't even real, the doctor quickly points out that she's sat in the other room. Define real. To Lars, Bianca is completely real. Isn't that the point?

      Other preconceptions are promptly broken down too. Whereas other writers would portray the church as judgmental and unwelcoming, Oliver isn't having any of it and instead portrays the regular churchgoers in a supportive, loving manner. Everybody in Lars's life is and even his brother's work mates learn to accept Lars and his new girlfriend. It's not until the story weaves its way into its final act that you realise just how powerful the effect of this story really is. As events unexpectedly unfold in front of you, the narrative makes its final, compelling point, demonstrating how in the space of ninety minutes, you learnt to care about a slightly eccentric young man and his love for a plastic doll. In fact, Oliver will remind you that perhaps Lars isn't quite so unusual after all. Some heated interaction between two of Lars's work colleagues is a poignant reminder that inanimate objects are often worth far more to us than we might initially own up to.

      Director Craig Gillespie's gentle touch reaps dividends throughout the film's running time. Filmed almost entirely throughout the depths of winter, it's as though there's an emotional connection between Lars and the weather outside. The freezing temperatures demonstrate his kindness (his need to share his blanket with his pregnant sister) and also his vulnerability (he continually needs to keep changing his footwear). The simple, slightly dewy cinematography helps convince the audience that this is just an ordinary town and suggests that contrary to what society would leave you to believe, rural American towns aren't full of backward, judgemental people. Realistically, Gillespie achieves this by creating a setting that is almost entirely authentically Scandinavian, from the snow-covered town, to the names of the characters, the weather and even the architecture, almost purposefully disassociating events from the US entirely.

      For some, the narrative will largely be a stretch too far. Sadly, and almost apologetically, it's hard to concede that a community of individuals would be this warm, affectionate and supportive, and this doesn't always feel like a tale set in the world that you and I know. But for Gillespie and Oliver, to film this in any other way would simply betray the focus of the film. They aren't *trying* to create a film about one man overcoming adversity. This is something very different. This is about the power of loneliness.

      Ryan Gosling has consistently proven himself to be a versatile and highly capable actor, but here he is almost certainly at his finest to date. As Lars Lindstrom, Gosling is completely compelling from start to finish. Given the narrative, it would have been easy for Gosling to create a comical figure but instead creates a warm, sensitive individual, full of quirk and individuality. Gosling captures Lars's inherent awkwardness completely perfectly. His use of body language, movement, facial expression and dialogue is always 'just right'. Despite the fact that we understand that Gosling's character experiences physical contact as pain, it's testament to the power of the narrative and the performances here that all the audience really wants to do is reach in and embrace him.

      Gosling benefits from a consistently excellent support cast too. British actress Emily Mortimer is superb here as Lars's sister-in-law Karin. Karin is at once commanding and sensitive and there's an overwhelming sense of sincerity that carries her throughout. As Gus, Paul Schneider provides the perfect antidote to this with a more complex character, struggling to accept the reality of the situation and trying to consider both his own welfare and that of his brother. Patricia Clarkson is always excellent but never more so than here, where she plays the knowing family doctor, confident that she can see Lars and his family through the crisis. Clarkson exudes that quiet resilience of a professional who knows what she's doing and is ultimately, of course, proven right. Kelli Garner is the slightly dotty work mate who secretly longs for Lars's attention and Nancy Beatty is the affectionate old battleaxe who whips everyone into shape.

      The region 2 DVD presentation is a little uninspiring but provides a worthy home for film that saw very little attention at the cinema. Technically, despite the film's limited budget, Lars and The Real Girl transfers well here, with a great deal of depth and clarity of colour. There's a slightly fuzzy quality to the visuals, almost as though the viewer is in some kind of dream-like state but the hues and colours of the wintry location look wonderful. The soundtrack is competent but a little uninspiring. Although presented in Dolby surround sound, little use is made of the technology aside from the quirky musical score. The dialogue, however, is always fully audible (which is important when many of the characters spend so long whispering) and there's no need to keep managing the volume.

      The special features are limited and, in some ways, a little inappropriate. There's a behind-the-scenes piece called The Real Story of Lars and the Real Girl that doesn't really tell you much (as if a ten minute feature really could) and is nothing more than promotional fare. The only real item of interest is how the writer set upon the idea after coming across a web site for 'Real Dolls' online. Really? There's also a very unfunny featurette called A Real Leading Lady, in which the cast and crew play about with 'Bianca', which seems wildly out of place given the film's rather mature take on the subject. Add to that one deleted scene, the ubiquitous trailer and some previews of other films, it's hardly a package to write home about.

      Lars and the Real Girl is an affectionate and surprisingly rewarding study of love and loneliness. With so many strong performances and such a strange, quirky storyline, this was always going to be a curiosity but the extent to which this is able to surprise and move the audience is testament to the skill with which it was made.

      Highly recommended

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        16.05.2010 07:44
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        Lars and the real girl

        Lars (Ryan Gosling) keeps himself to himself, since his father's death he has turned into a social recluse and even moved out of the family that he shares with his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) and his wife Karin (Emily Mortimer) into the garage.

        One day whilst at work he gets a call from Karin telling him that a large delivery has been made and she has left it in the garage for him. On returning he knocks on his brother's door and tells him and Karin that he has met someone and that they would like to have dinner with them. Obviously they are excited for him as they have been worried about him and the fact that they don't see very much of him.

        But all is not as expected, his friend is a plastic sex doll. Lars believes that she is real and even talks to her and listens to her responses. He introduces her to them as Bianca, she is half Danish and half Brazilian. She tells them that she is disabled and on her trip here both her clothes and wheelchair was stolen. They don't know how to react, and after putting her to bed in their house (she is religious and old fashioned) They suggest that they all take Bianca to see the family doctor the next morning to get her checked out after all the travelling.

        After seeing the doctor they find out that Lars is suffering from a form of delusion and she tells them that they must play along, Gus is obviously not happy with this. She tells them that the only person that can stop this is Lars, and they have to wait for him to realise that he is ok and doesn't need her anymore. In the end because of the respect that the town has for Lars they all end up playing along and welcoming Bianca into the town.

        I absolutely love this film, although the storyline is a bit out there it never feels to over the top. I love the way that you actually connect with the character of Lars and although I never felt sorry for him because of the mental illness that he has acquired his character just fills your heart with warmth and sympathy. Of course with the storyline that this film has there are bound to be laughs and there are but not so many that the whole warmness of the film is ruined.

        Ryan gosling was amazing in this film, although he was playing a socially inept character that is very insecure you never feel uncomfortable. You really believe that he thinks that Bianca is a real person and you get completely sucked into the storyline. In one of the extras there is an interview with him and Bianca and you can really tell that Gosling has a sense of humour, and storms out at the end leaving Bianca to finish the interview.

        One of my favourite scenes is when he first introduces Bianca to his brother and Karin, just their faces and the fact that they don't know how to act, whether to play along with him or whether to talk to him about it. I just love how straight faced and serious he is whilst the other two are losing their minds and think that he has lost it!

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        25.03.2010 20:16
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        knowingly kooky

        Lars and the Real Girl is basically a film about a man who falls in love with a sex doll. Lars (Ryan Gosling) plays the socially inept central character who lives in the garage of the house he and his brother inherited when their dad died. He learns from a friend at work that you can order anatomically correct life-size dolls from the internet and he does just that. So begins the story of how this doll (Bianca) is accepted by his family and friends how try to understand why this is happening to Lars.

        Ryan Gosling is a very strange character here. He's weird and odd and is quite good in the role of the mentally disturbed, but oddly likeable Lars. And why does everyone look like they've been dressed by the Freemans catalogue circa 1973?

        In the end, Lars and the Real Girl wasn't my cup of tea. There were far too many variables and unbelievable elements to ever seriously consider this happening in real life, although it was presented this way. It knew its kookiness would attract the Juno crowd and people would hail it an underground masterpiece down to its clever hook, but the truth is it just is totally ludicrous.

        Let's examine the evidence. No matter how many nice people you might have in your town or community, there's always going to be someone who thinks the fact that you are in love with a sex doll is a little bit nuts. However, everyone seems to accept this notion with little more than a blink of an eye. What even more weird is the fact that Lars' church community buys into this strange behaviour, even going so far as to invite her to church and consider a potential marriage and without trying to ruin the film - go even further toward the end of the movie.

        Are we seriously expected to believe that people would react this way? Lars' mental illness is treated so matter of factly.

        Lars and the Real Girl is a bizarre film that really goes out of its way to be different. I suppose the makers need to be applauded for that if anything. Its also then quite difficult to recommend this film to anyone either as its not a drama or romantic comedy. It is a film about a man who falls in love with a sex doll, and if you want to see that then this is the film for you!

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          02.02.2010 21:14
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          A surprisingly uplifting and heart-warming tale of human complexity.

          Many people find one of the main appeals of independent cinema is its tendency to make them say "What the f***?" in response to its method of tackling a number of serious issues. Lars And The Real Girl is a perfect example of the quirky, indie approach to emphasizing isolation and loneliness within human nature. Get this: The film chooses to outline such issues by having its lead character Lars (Ryan Gosling), a shy and sensitive guy who lives in the garage apartment behind his brother, purchase a blow-up doll from the Internet and then go around announcing to people in the local community that "she" is his girlfriend.

          This may seem like an hilarious premise (and admittedly there are some funny moments in the film), but the emotional depth in Lars makes this a serious tale of one man being locked in a delusional state of mind, as a result of wanting to be accepted. The viewer is introduced to the main character as he sits alone at home in the dark, wrapped in his Mother's blanket, avoiding contact from people as best he can. He is socially inept, unable to develop a close relationship with his older brother, Gus (Paul Schneider), who he believes doesn't understand him, and he also rejects any attempt from his sister-in-law, Karin (Emily Mortimer), to reach out.

          Lars sees what he regards as the only opportunity to develop a close bond with an opposite via an advert on the Internet. He purchases a life-size sex doll from an adult store and shows up on his brother and sister-in-law's doorstep announcing that he has met someone. Though, to their surprise, it is not his sweet co-worker, Margo (Kelli Garner), who obviously fancies him, but a half-Brazilian, half-Danish disabled missionary, named Bianca -- his plastic fiancée.

          Naturally, Lars' deviation from the norm startles and worries everyone, prompting them to take him to see the family doctor (Patricia Clarkson). She advises everyone to go along with his delusion, treating him (and Bianca) as if they were normal human beings within the community. Lars drags Bianca everywhere, even to church, and people look at him weirdly at first, but through an obvious compassion for his good-naturedness, they understand his condition and treat him and his fantasy girlfriend with the utmost respect.

          Lars is a weird tale, but it isn't weird purely for the sake of being weird. The film doesn't just get off on shock value (excuse the pun); it's actually a very heart-warming and intriguing tale, which deals with mental illness at the root of the problem. Some may think the premise sounds too far-fetched, but the irony of it is how real it all seems. Craig Gillespie directs the film with such delicacy, focusing on Lars' painful vulnerability, which unveils a bittersweet tale that is shocking yet subtle at the same time. This could so easily have been a raunchy comedy filled with cheap smut references, but the film's gentle direction accompanied by a well-written script and some potent photography makes the whole experience very endearing indeed.

          Gosling is terrific. His performance manages to find the perfect balance between ordinary and extraordinary. His eyes twitch and he smiles advertently, but he doesn't creep the viewer out with the problems his character is facing; if anything, he allows the viewer to embrace Lars, inviting everyone into his fantasy so that they can attempt to understand him. Gosling generates a good amount of sympathy, but is so precise that he doesn't overdo it -- everything he does seems so natural. The Notebook aside, it isn't difficult to see why he is becoming recognised as one of the most talented actors of his generation.

          Lars And The Real Girl is a story of good human nature willing to accept the delusional mindstate of one lonely individual. Its desire is to bring people together, inspiring them to comfort the troubled souls within society as a whole. Gosling is terrific, as said, but the film is also aided by some inspirational performances from Schneider, Mortimer, Garner and Clarkson, which make the film a very precious experience for the viewer. It does start off a little slow, and some may find its premise off-putting, but the film ends up being a surprisingly uplifting and heart-warming tale of human complexity.

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          09.12.2009 13:09
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          Lars falls in love with a plastic doll!

          I decided to watch this film after I was very impressed by Ryan Gosling's outstanding performance in Half Nelson. Directed by Craig Gillespie it also stars Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider.

          Lars is an introverted guy who decides to move to the garage since his brother and sister-in-law moved in. He keeps to himself,goes to work where he hardly speaks to anyone and comes back home but stays away from socialising from his brother Gus(Paul Schneider) and his wife Karin(Emily Mortimer). They become happy when Lars suddenly comes to them and announces he has his girlfriend coming over dinner. The surprise is the fact that the girlfriend is an anatomically correct doll that he ordered online!! Wondering how such a film will progress? That's the sheer brilliance of this film-the way it has been written.

          The writers are focussed to make the film beleivable and I felt they were succesful to a great extent. The fact that Lars is delusional is not overdone,nor is it overdramatic. You will actually be surprised at how the film shapes up,how things fall into place and you will be amazed how you are actually following what is going on screen. There is a whole lot of other emotions here, Gus and Karin's concern for Lars is well portrayed. The characters are well developed and very realistic. The approach is subtle yet heartwarming. The objective of the film is to show Lars' journey and how his interaction with Bianca(the doll) helps him mature as a person and see life in a different life.Some sequences tend to be a bit silly which is understandable since the plot is unusual.

          Ryan's performance is the soul of the film. I love the range of work he has been doing(I've only seen three of his films-Notebook,Half Nelson and this) and I am already a fan of his work! A complex character in nature, Ryan gets into Lars' character and gives a strong performance. His interaction with the doll looks genuine and his feelings for it seem real. The small nuances he adds to Lars' character gives a lot of depth to the character. Both Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider are very good too,providing solid supporting performances. The ending is beautiful and is like the icing on the cake.

          I have to warn that such a film is not for everyone; many will be bored by this film. But if you like quality cinema, you will like this!

          Rating:3.5/5

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            11.10.2009 12:04
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            A strange film but worth watching

            I watched Lars and the Girl with my wife and well it divided opinion in our household.

            Whats it about?

            Well Lars (Ryan Gosling) is a man in his late twenties or so whose socially very awkward, he works in some kind of office but lives in the garage whilst his brother Gus and his wife Karin. Lars is very awkward around people and his sister in law tries to bring him out of this by inviting him around for food, she's also pregnant.

            So what happens, well Lars orders a life size anatomically correct doll called Bianca from a online website. He introduces the doll as his real girlfriend and starts to interact with the people around him through the tool of talking through the girl.

            The film is set in a undeclared town somewhere in America where its very cold in the winter, I'm guessing somewhere around either Wisconsin or Nebraska but could be wrong. This is a small town and soon Lars' odd behaviour starts to get attention, but he's generally liked so they take his odd behaviour with a pinch of salt and accept that he needs the doll as some kind of mental aid to interact with the townsfolk.

            At first because the film is filmed very slowly, with little or no music I was worried that the film would develop into a film you'll watch through your fingers because some of the scenes are socially awkward. However, this doesn't prove to be the case it moves very quickly away from this possibility into something more warming and enjoyable.

            Bianca, the doll develops some kind of illness in Lars mind and he takes her to the hospital where we meet the doctor who in treating Bianca actually treats Lars for his mental issues, through this Lars starts to develop and become more comfortable with other people.

            What could have been creepy and awkward to watch soon develops into something heart warming, here the town help Lars with his mental issues and accept Bianca as a real person, they soon realise that Bianca is helping Lars become a person. This is the films great triumph in it we see a man with problems awake as a person, he starts to interact with his surroundings and through him we see that the town has been waiting for a chance to accept him.

            However, my wife hated it, the film is slow and pondorous at times and it does ask the viewer to accept that a whole town would get together to help one man through his mental issues. There are darker sides as well, there's his sister in laws pregnancy linked to the death of his own mother at an early age, the doll is anatomically correct and the brother does put her to bed every night, and there is his mental issues at hand through out.

            The film stars Ryan Gosling who dominates the film and gives a superb display as a socially inept young man, the supporting cast are strong and let the film breathe without taking the spotlight from Lars and his problems. Particularly good is Emily Mortimer as his sister in law, she gives a great performance as a worried sister in law and pregnant lady all roled into one.

            The film last 102 minutes and was directed by Craig Gillespie and written by Nancy Oliver.

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              16.08.2009 20:23
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              Not a mainstream film, but one that will touch you.

              Lars and the Real Girl is most often described as a comedy, but in the true tradition of a good indie film, it gives the viewer so much more than just a cheap laugh. Lars takes you on a voyage of discovery - about the main character and his history, about the small, caring community that he lives in, and about the nature of mental illness and its treatment.

              The screenplay is written by Nancy Oliver, the writer of Six Feet Under - and the quirky, insightful humour that comes over in the film is characteristic of that found in the TV series.

              Although it is not specified, I imagine that the town is meant to be located in North Dakota - it has much the same feel as Fargo, with the Norwegian / Swedish culture coming through, and the feeling of a sparse, isolated population pulling together to form a community.

              ~~plot~~

              Lars Lindstrom (played by Ryan Gosling) is introduced to the viewer as a strange character who is so alienated from society that the touch of another human actually hurts him. He is completely unable to interact with anybody and spurns overtures from his brother, his sister in law and his work colleagues.

              Lars has given up the family home to his brother Gus and his pregnant wife Karin, willingly making a new home in the garage so that they can live comfortably in the house. Although Karin makes every effort to make Lars a part of their lives, he constantly refuses to be drawn in. At work he also rebuffs Margo, a young and fairly kooky work colleague who constantly tries to form a friendship with Lars.

              The whole community is stunned when Lars suddenly lets them know that he has formed a serious relationship with Bianca, a girl he met on the internet. They are even more stunned when he introduces Bianca, and it becomes obvious that Lars truly believes that the life size sex doll he ordered over the internet is a real girl.

              The rest of the film explores the way in which a small community can pull together to support somebody with difficulties. Dagmar, the family doctor, recommends that nobody should challenge Lars about his new 'girlfriend', and while she is treating Lars for his problems, the inhabitants of the small town prove the real meaning of friendship as they take Bianca into their hearts.

              ~~my opinion~~

              This film absolutely entranced me. I loved the way in which Lars' story gradually unfolded as we discovered more about his family and the events that had made him the way he is.

              There are some obvious laughs to be had when you introduce a sex doll into mainstream society, and I did laugh out loud at some of the scenes. In addition, Lars himself has some very funny moments - even before Bianca comes into the film.

              Ryan Gosling is very impressive in the role, managing to convey mental illness in a very convincing way - engaging the viewer with his vulnerability and showing that he really wants to be helped. The tender way he behaves towards Bianca makes the whole film credible - a lesser actor could have made the scenes embarrassing and unconvincing.
              I have only seen Ryan Gosling in one film before (Fracture) - and I had no idea that he could give such a sensitive performance.

              Gosling was ably supported by a very good cast, in particular Kelli Garner (playing Margo), who managed to portray gawky enthusiasm combined with sensitivity and a deeply caring attitude.

              Overall, I would say that this film is about love - not romantic love, but the heart-warming love that a community can give to an person in trouble. It was not only funny and a great pleasure to watch - it also made me think about the way I live my life and the judgements I make.

              Lars runs for 1 hour 46 minutes. It was released in 2008, and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Ryan Gosling was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actor.

              Main parts were played by:

              Ryan Gosling - Lars Lindstrom
              Emily Mortimer - Karin
              Paul Schneider - Gus
              Kelli Garner - Margo
              Patricia Clarkson - Dagmar

              Lars and the Real Girl is rated a 12 - and is totally devoid of sex, violence or swearing.

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                07.07.2009 19:40
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                A unique and impressive film

                Lars and the Real Girl is a winning comic drama from Six Feet Under episode writer Nancy Oliver, who delivered some of the very best episodes of the series. The film focuses on a shy, socially inept young man who nurtures an intimate relationship with a life-sized, anatomically-correct doll he orders online.

                What Lars and the Real Girl gets right, is that it steers away from being crude or overly smutty. It could very well have nosedived as a disingenous comedy with a slightly original concept - instead, it's a strangely innocent film that's very sincere and never makes anything more out Lars than a slightly odd, very shy young man that just wants some company. He's never a sex crazed psychopath or anything. This is a well crafted character piece that's mature and very sincere, whilst perhaps making Lars a little too quirky at times, but never cute in a way that diminishes the drama to a soft and fluffy comedy.

                I'm just most impressed that Nancy Oliver was brave enough and confident enough in her material not to water it down or tamper with it in any direction - this is genuinely affecting material, largely thanks to Ryan Gosling's excellent performance, and one which, along with his previous Oscar nominated turn in Full Nelson the year before, establishes him as an acting force to be reckoned with.

                A mostly smart script and an exceptional performance from Ryan Gosling elevate Lars and the Real Girl beyond the contrivances imbued within the film's premise.

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                  18.06.2009 09:28
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                  A young man finds true love.

                  Somewhere in the realms of small town America a quiet, shy man by the name of Lars lives. His home is in the garage of the family home, owned 50/50 with his brother, who lives in the main house with his pregnant wife. Lars is a friendly, helpful guy and he is well liked both at work and by the inhabitants of the town.

                  There is a young girl he works with who seems to quite like Lars but he cannot talk to her at all, ending up acting like a 12 year old around her. He likes that she talks to him but seems to have no idea of how to respond, so he ignores her or just plain runs away.

                  Lars is normal in most way, or he seems to be. He might be a little bit backward or maybe he just doesn't like more than basic interaction with other people. Karin, his sister in law (Emily Mortimer) tries valiantly to get him to join them for breakfast, or dinner, or in fact any meal at all ,but her the only reward for her persistence is a 'no thank you'.

                  Then Lars announces that he has a girlfriend, Bianca. This is a big enough surprise to his brother in itself but when he introduces her the shockwaves rumble throughout the close knit community. You see he bought Bianca off the internet. She is a life size, realistic 'doll'. To make matters worse it is readily apparent that Lars actually seems to think that she is real!

                  From then on Lars and The Real Girl becomes bright and breezy rom-com, just about, with some outright strange situations. It becomes the tale of a man trying to cope with life and people in the only way he can, by becoming like those around him in having a woman/partner in his life.
                  With Bianca he doesn't have to be scared or worry ... she understands him and he can talk to her with ease. All the things he couldn't bring himself to say to a real woman he can say to her.
                  L&TRG is an indie film in every way, much like the indie break through film Juno it oozes indieness from start to finish. It has that unsullied feel to it that you so rarely get these days. A film that has been left alone by Hollywood PR and hype, ignored by the studios executives who want the film smoothed out and made like every other movie.
                  I thought that no film would get close to Juno as the indie film of 2008, the successor to Little Miss Sunshine, but L&TRG gets very close, even surpassing it in places. In fact it joined Juno in getting a nomination for Best Screenplay at the 2008 Oscars.
                  What gives it such an indie feel is not only the skewed storyline but also the way it is made. It has very few locations, has a small, quality cast, has the typical offbeat soundtrack and sadly had a very limited release in the cinemas.
                  This is indie film making at its very best. It takes a well used and clichéd format (the romcom)and spins it 180 degrees on its head. Throwing in an idea that you would have thought would have scared off not only the big studios but all the smaller ones to... unless the Farrelly Brothers (Something About Mary, Stuck On You) were involved.

                  Ryan Gosling is a major star in the making. As Lars he shows once again that he is a class apart from most other young actors. He has done tortuous and heavy drama (Half Nelson), out and out thriller (Fracture) and romance (The Notebook) taking them all in his stride. He is a terrific actor who has the ability to make any film worth watching.
                  Here he is assisted by Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson (indie woman supreme) amongst others and the characters reactions to meeting Bianca for the first time are amongst the funniest things you will ever see in a movie.

                  Lars is a little gem of a movie that you should try your hardest to get to see and at least due to the wonders of DVD you can do that quite easily now.
                  The only downside to it, as far as I can see, is that it might not be up to repeat viewing. A lot of the comedy comes from reactions, Lars' to Bianca and the townsfolk to the couple and their relationship. Whether this would work if you saw it again I am not certain. I don't think it would for me but on the other hand maybe I would notice more?
                  Whatever the answer to this question is Lars & the Real girl is one of the most gentle, amusing and funniest movies around.

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                    05.06.2009 20:57

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                    a sex aid with a heart

                    I think the reason I liked this film so much is that it was so surprising. I expected there to be quite a few sex doll related jokes but it was actually a very sensitive account of mental illness (that's not to say that the sight of the poor guy sitting there with a blow up doll as his girlfriend at the dinner table doesn't elicit a good chuckle).

                    My boyfriend also loved it despite his initial reservations and was particularly impressed by Ryan Gosling's performance. Coming from a guy who prefers action movies and anything with gallons of blood in it this is quite unexpected.

                    I would say it is similar in style to little miss sunshine and Juno so if you liked those then you're in for a treat with this one. It gives the same feel good fuzziness at the end without being overly cheesy. If you're watching it with someone then just tell them its about a sex doll and they'll hopefully be as pleasantly surprised as I was.

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                    21.05.2009 15:12
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                    The wonky scenes in the middle that don't quite fit in with the brilliant remainder of the film

                    An odd, but loveable guy falls for a life-size blow-up sex doll. Those around him find it hard to cope with this bizarre occurrence. His brother has a harder time trying to adjust to this new lifestyle and wants psychiatric help. But since this is the only thing that this pathologically shy guy is so suddenly dedicated and attached to, everyone living in his town decides to work together in welcoming "her" into their society. The film starts off by being quirky and funny - seriously, how would you react if you saw someone who is properly in love with an inanimate object? All the expected reactions from all the right people are included in this - which is why the first half is so hysterical. The second half focuses on the things we do for the ones we care about. It is incredibly touching to see the whole town try to help out the slightly weird and disturbed guy instead of abusing him. Ryan Gosling delivers an astonishing performance, convincingly capturing the vulnerable image as well as showing a tremendeous amount of love for the doll. The slightly downside of the film is the sub-plots. It's good that Gosling's character gradually starts having more real, human relationsihps but they seem slightly off-beat and not as charming as the film's general atmosphere.

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                      16.04.2009 01:50
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                      Recommended

                      I have wanted to see Lars and the Real Girl for a while because it has had very good reviews and it sounded like a cool, quirky and interesting film. It also received a wealth of award nominations.

                      It is a film about Lars, a man who is very socially awkward and spends most of his time alone in the garage next to his brother's house. His brother Gus and sister-in-law Karin do their best to interact with him, as does the sweet girl Margo at work, but Lars finds all social situations very scary. However one day he announces he has a girlfriend, Bianca. Gus and Karin are thrilled, until they find out that Bianca is a life-size anatomically correct doll that Lars has purchased from the internet.

                      Lars believes that Bianca is real, and has what the psychologist describes as a delusional disorder. The psychologist tells Karin and Gus that the best thing to do to help him is to go along with it, so they agree and soon the whole town is treating Bianca as if she is real. But the question remains as to how long this can carry on, and whether Lars will ever be able to adjust to real life or have a real relationship.

                      The acting in this film is really brilliant. Ryan Gosling is really likeable as Lars and I instantly warmed to him and sympathised with him. The way he treats Bianca is so sweet and you can tell what a lovely thoughtful boyfriend Lars would be to a real girl. The role of Lars must have been really difficult because it requires a lot of dramatic scenes and also a touch of comedy too, but Gosling pulls it off very well and is absorbing to watch.

                      Emily Mortimer is also excellent as Karin. She is the emotional heart of the film and probably the one that viewers will identify most with as she tries her best to support Lars whilst being pregnant herself. Paul Schneider as Gus is very good too and even though at times he is impatient with Lars and struggles to understand him, you can still empathise with him. Kelli Garner plays Margo and she is very cute and likeable in the role as well.

                      I think the film is easy to watch and absorbing even though not a great amount actually happens. It is psychologically very interesting and brings up a lot of issues. I do have a couple of complaints about it though. Everyone in the town seems just a bit too understanding about Lars' issues. I can imagine that in a real town people would shout things at him in the street and make sarcastic comments if they were asked to style the hair of his fake girlfriend or have her volunteer at the hospital. Everyone is so kind and that makes it a lovely feel-good film in some ways, but it also stops it being totally believable.

                      I did enjoy the film a lot though. It is funny at times but also very emotional and has a lot of important messages. I would recommend it but bear in mind it is not exactly action-packed.

                      You can buy Lars and the Real Girl for £8.97 from Amazon.co.uk at the moment. There are a couple of extras on the DVD including a making of documentary and the theatrical trailer. I wouldn't recommend watching the trailer first though as it gives away much of the plot.

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                        13.04.2009 10:40
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                        A loner announces that he has a girlfriend who turns out to be life size plastic doll called Bianca

                        - Introduction -

                        I had seen a review on this movie elsewhere online and it sounded like quite a curious movie, the story was one that I hadn't really heard of before and it got a good write up by the reviewer, so I decided to add it to my rental list. I like to both see mainstream, well known movies and try out a few lesser known titles and this movie arrived on the door mat a few days ago, with me watching it last night.


                        - Credits -

                        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0805564/fullcredits


                        - Story -

                        Lars and the Real Girl tells the story of Lars' Lindstrom, a shy young man who keeps away from people and lives in a room by the garage near his brother and sister in laws house. His sister in law Karin keeps trying to get him to interact with them more but he chooses to shy away, until one day when he announces that he has a girlfriend, much to the delight of his brother and sister in law, that is until they discover that his girlfriend is infact an 'anatomically correct' life size blowup doll that he ordered online, whom he calls Bianca and talks to as if she were real. As it happens, he doesn't use the doll for any seedy purposes but rather he embarks on what appears to be a very meaningful relationship for him, taking Bianca out in public as he starts to get out more feeling that he isn't alone. His brother finds this all too ridiculous and gets a doctor involved, who pretends that Bianca has some illness in order to get Lars to bring her in often so that she can secretly evaluate him.

                        As he gets out more, the community become more aware of the 'couple'. Will they accept what he's doing? will Lars wake up to the fact that he's 'dating' an inanimate object? what will happen to him and what of his brother Gus, who finds this all very hard to take in? you'll have to watch the movie to find out, of course.


                        - Thoughts/Opinions/Extra Info. -

                        This is a fairly quirky movie, which I quite enjoyed. I thought that it was quite touching at points and I was quite intrigued to see how the movie would play out. You would be mistaken for thinking that its perhaps a bit of an obvious movie, that its a tale of a shy man who keeps to himself and whos relatives come to save the day and 'thats that' sort of thing but it isn't really like that. I thought that it was quite sweet to watch how the 'townsfolk' reacted to the new 'citizen' Bianca, how the doctor dealt with Lars and his delusions, seemingly 'treating' Bianca while really trying to evaluate Lars. Lars himself is quite a curious character and I did feel quite sorry for him, I have to say I have a good bit of experience when it comes to being someone who prefers to keep to themselves, im not one for going to big parties or being out with other people other than my family, very much at all and its sad to see how people judge him, although of course it is true to say that its not particularly healthy to be that way and when Bianca comes along, yes, if I were his sister I'd be alarmed too!

                        There are some fairly surreal scenes, which again should be expected given the story, where 'Bianca' is shown in the neighbourhood, accompanying Lars to certain places and events, such as attending a church service with him and even getting 'her' blood pressure taken. The way the story goes with Lars at first being blissfully in love and then slowly things going downhill for poor Bianca, I almost did start to feel sorry for her, even if she is just an inanimate blow up doll! but really for me it was the reaction of the community to this doll, how they acted around Lars and Bianca that I particularly liked and found quite fascinating. I can't imagine the same being the case around here and again it added a fair degree of surrealism to the movie but I feel that there is, somehow, a positive message in there somehow, that ok here you have who must be quite a disillusioned man who chooses to let his imagination, I suppose, run a bit and has built up these delusions as the doctor calls it but as it is, it doesn't hurt anyone and in having 'Bianca' it makes him that bit more confident to attend things that he wouldn't have had he really believed he was on his own, such as attending a local party. In the movie you also have two opposing views, the general acceptance of Bianca by the local community against Lars' brother Gus, who clearly doesn't accept 'her' and to start with even suggests sectioning poor Lars. However, as hesitant and disapproving as he is at the start, I feel that towards the end things change a bit and I also thought it was quite nice to see how Gus' wife Karin reacted too, her being the one that tried to get Lars to come over and see them more.

                        I feel that this is in one way quite a sad and touching movie but its also somewhat uplifting and I suppose it does have somethng of a positive message, its certainly something different anyway, I thought that it was quite well thought out as far as the story goes, what happens as Lars 'relationship' with Bianca continues and what the outcome eventually is, it was quite fascinating and I thought that Ryan Gosling gave a good performance portraying this disillusioned man who seems to really see somebody in this doll.

                        Of course this isn't a movie for everyone but I thought that the story was interesting enough, it didn't drone on forever and the performances were again quite solid, the interaction between Lars and his brother Gus and his sister in law Karin and the community in general being quite interesting, so it kept me watching until the end and I also liked how the movie ended, I thought it was quite fitting, thats all I'll say there for fear of giving too much away.

                        I do think some people may find it bland, if your very outgoing then you may well not relate to Lars and so find it just a bit too weird and a bit too slow, pace-wise, also it isn't exactly laugh out loud funny, its more subtle and more of a quirky, touching movie than a comedy movie as such but it is the sort of movie that I quite enjoy from time to time, so it suited me well, for me it'd be more of a 5 star movie but I think there are people who won't really 'get it' or enjoy it that much, so I decided to go with a 4 star rating, also im not sure if it is a movie that I would watch more than once, im not sure.


                        - Would I Recommend it? -

                        Yes I would. Like I say, its not a movie everyone will enjoy, its not laugh out loud hilarious, its not full of action, its not really sexual or anything like that but its an intriguing 'human' story, if you know what I mean, that I found quite touching and fascinating too in a sense. I found the story interesting and the performances are fine too, so I would recommend it.

                        Thank you for reading my review; I hope you found it useful! thanks for all r/r/c's.

                        This review is also posted on Ciao UK under the same username, IzzyS.

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                          16.03.2009 11:53
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                          Beautiful Film

                          Lars is a socially enclosed person, he has a home which was left to him and his brother when his parents died but prefers to live in the garage on his own and leave the house for his brother and sister in law.

                          Lars is a social outcast while being polite and helpful for elder neighbours at work he is unable to interact with people his own age or even his own family. As his sister-in-laws constant failed attempts to invite him to dinner prove.

                          One day at work Lars stumbles upon his porn obsessed colleague checking out a prosphetic doll online which can be built to your own needs and wants, he shows it to Lars and the story continues.

                          Six months later Lars receives a large delivery and then his personality changes almost immediately, he tells his brother and sister-in-law he has a girlfriend and could she live with them, they excitedly agree, until they meet the wheelchair bound sex doll, who he tells them is wheelchair bound and from Russia.

                          The family are shocked but seeing him so happy play along and even take Lars and the 'real girl' to the doctors, she examines the doll and then talks with the family advising Lars is delusional. The family talk with people in their community and everyone is aware of Lars and the doll and play along treating her as part of the community.


                          What I thought:

                          I loved this film, from the start Ryan Gosling is exceptional as Lars, his facial expressions, ticks, everything tells you more in his body language than some hollywood actors could say in days of talking, the story is lovely and quirky, Lars does not buy the doll for sex, but for a meaningful relationship and it transpires he was born when his mother died and his father possibly withheld love blaming Lars for this so he transfers all the love he's never felt to the doll, but the film shows that everyone in the community cares for Lars by treating the doll as one of their own, through this he begins to understand he is loved and becomes a real person and shows it in return.

                          The film is very powerful at one point I felt sorry for the doll, at another it was clear that Lars does actually understand she isn't real and that everyone is humouring him, but carries on regardless. The cast is brilliant, Emily Mortimer is wonderfully sweet as Karin, Paul Schneider is dark and confused as the brother and exudes an air of believing his failure to look out for his brother is partly to blame for this.

                          The film is delightfully shot, the soundtrack is brilliant, dialogue is sparse but punchy and the film as a whole is one I will treasure, a real hidden gem.




                          Cast:


                          Ryan Gosling ... Lars Lindstrom

                          Emily Mortimer ... Karin

                          Paul Schneider ... Gus
                          R.D. Reid ... Reverend Bock

                          Kelli Garner ... Margo
                          Nancy Beatty ... Mrs. Gruner
                          Doug Lennox ... Mr. Hofstedtler
                          Joe Bostick ... Mr. Shaw
                          Liz Gordon ... Mrs. Schindler
                          Nicky Guadagni ... Mrs. Petersen

                          Patricia Clarkson ... Dagmar
                          Karen Robinson ... Cindy
                          Maxwell McCabe-Lokos ... Kurt
                          Billy Parrott ... Erik
                          Sally Cahill ... Deb

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