Thursday, September 03, 2009

Mini Review:
He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not (2002)
Starring: Audrey Tatou and some other french people...:)
Directed by: Laetitia Colomban

This movie takes place in two parts and is equally appealing from both perspectives. The story initially follows luminously beautiful Angelique, a spritely girl who is deeply inlove with her married boyfriend. Blindly faithful to him, in spite of his obvious unwillingness to seperate from his pregnant wife, Angelique is confident that someday the two of them will be together. However, things may not be quite what they seem when the story spirals into a dark place from which it never recovers....thankfully. It's a surprising tale that quickly moves from 'girl loses boy' territory to something refreshingly different when it begins to follow prior events from the perspective of the boyfriend. What could have been a typical 'Fatal Attraction' style thriller is kept all the more satisfying as the direction keeps the mood light at unlikely moments, the performances hold true, and the screenplay tosses us surprises along the way.

Tatou is excellent here...and quite different than our lovely 'Amelie'.

My rating: 8/10

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
Starring: Ryan Gosling and Emily Mortimer
Directed by:Cragi Gillespie (

I wanted to see this film while it was at the theater but never was able to make it. I rented it on Netflix finally, and watched it three times in two days. Did I like it? Yes!!

Lars is a introverted young man who spends most of his time alone. He works in an unforgiving office job and lives in the apartment/garage of his family home, which is now inhabited by his older brother. Gus has recently married and sister-in-law Karin is expecting a child. Perhaps due to her maternal instincts, Karin has begun developing strong concerns for Lars-feeling that he is drawing further and further away, not only from his brother, but from society in general. Though Gus attempts to allay her fears, they are nonetheless proven to be of proper foundation when Lars quite suddenly brings home a girlfriend...a lifelike 'love doll' named Bianca. While Lars carries on conversations with his new love and parades her proudly around town, Gus and Karin turn to Doctor Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) for help.

THe premise of this film is entirely original and proved to be all I expected. It is a character study, a comedy, and a psychological drama all in one. The setting, a small town in winter, gives the film a palpable atmosphere throughout-and somehow also proves to be an important factor for the story's progression. In addition to the main characters mentioned, there are also some very fleshed-out supporting characters which provide a proper sense of what type of town this is and how they feel about the protagonist, Lars. The town draws together to support this disturbed individual and provides yet another theme of the story that we didnt anticipate-family unity.

Gosling is phenomenal in this role. I am reminded of Edward Norton and his breakthrough performance in 'Primal Fear', where we realized how faceted an actor he really was. Gosling is that type of actor-handsome enough to be a leading man but brave and talented enough to take on challenges like this one. There are extended scenes of conversation between he and 'Bianca' that could not have been easy to pull off; yet he does so effortlessly. His lack of an oscar nomination for this film notwithstanding, it is one of the best performances I've seen by an actor of his generation. He is a 'loveable looney', on par with James Stewart of 'Harvey'. Charming, a good person, unthreatening...but obviously unhinged. Mortimer and Clarkson provide excellent performances as well, which is to be expected. The bigget surprise for me was Paul Schnieder, who I honestly can't remember from his previous films. Yet, in this movie he provides us with some extra levity during the pivotal first moments , discovering his brother's condition, and some touching moments when he comes to grips with the situation and joins the rest of the town in supporting Lars.

The direction and screenplay combine to make a story that looks rediculous on paper, become absolutely convincing and engaging. Though some people may feel that the sudden transition in Lars' personality is not believeble and that the relationship with the doll brings on too many changes in his societal behavior, I enjoyed the fact that the film leaves these changes and their origins open to interpretation. It's a movie that will move you, make you laugh, but also provide some good conversation when it's over.

All in all, I will be buying this one...and I doubt there will ever be anything like it again.

My rating: 9/10