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About The Story
Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) is just getting through life. In the small Midwestern town he has always lived in, Lars holds down a nondescript office job, occupies the garage apartment behind his childhood home, where his brother, Gus (Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law Karin (Emily Mortimer) now live. He lives in near isolation, avoids human contact—literally, his social life consists of weekly church attendance and chats with his co-worker with whom he shares an office cubicle. He refuses all invitations from Karin and Gus and runs from the obvious flirtations of his coworker Margo (Kelli Garner). As director Craig Gillespie puts it, "He's been living in limbo, getting by under the radar. He's almost invisible.” While Gus has grown accustomed to Lars' routine, Karin tries desperately to engage him in some interaction, conversation and normal family activities especially now when their family is about to grow – Karin is pregnant with their first child.

But everything changes when Lars introduces Gus and Karin to Bianca, a beautiful half- Danish, half-Brazilian missionary "on sabbatical to experience the world.” Much to Gus and Karin's horror, Bianca is a RealGirl, a custom-ordered, life-size doll. That she is so is obvious to everyone but Lars, for whom Bianca is a religious girl raised by nuns, she is reliant on a wheelchair, shy and soulful. And she is now their houseguest as they already agreed to Lars' request that Bianca stay with them lest her modesty be offended.

The strain on the family is apparent from the first moment as Karin and Gus fight over how to react. While Karin is able to respond with compassion and understanding, "Gus is representative of the nay-saying, suspicious, angry outside world that has decided his brother is insane, that this is ridiculous and wrong and awful, and he doesn't want to think about it,” explains Emily Mortimer. "So I'm immediately stuck in the middle, trying to corral my furious husband while still loving him very much, and wanting he and Lars desperately to be friends.”

"Karin encompasses a lot of what Lars sees as his mother,” suggests Gillespie. "Karin's very strong and opinionated but she's also incredibly warm and comforting and nurturing. She's the glue in the family.”

"Gus gets bullied into playing along,” responds Paul Schneider. "Karin's so aggressive about it, like if he doesn't do this he'll be a bad person, and how could she be married to a bad person?” So now not only does Gus have to deal with the stigma of having a mentally ill brother, "he has to deal with how the person he loves will consider him; he's the guy who's going to be in trouble with his girl if he doesn't do the right thing.”

Gus, director Gillespie notes, represents the audience in this movie in that he's the most resistant to the premise and, adds Producer John Cameron, Schneider creates such an engaging character that this empathy is maintained throughout the film. "Gus is funny but torn and angstridden and confused for much of the film,” says Cameron, "and Paul does a marvelous job of running through that roller coaster of emotions.”

Paul Schneider adds, "There is more going on with Gus than first appears. The recognition that Lars might be unbalanced brings up long denied feelings of guilt and remorse. "This is a dysfunctional family that has been maintaining its dysfunction for quite some time,” admits Schneider. "Now, all of a sudden my character has to deal with the fact that he's been a massive failure as a brother. Bianca's arrival into our lives brings this front and center and, in a very painful way, exorcises all of this.”

Thinking quickly on her feet, Karin suggests to Lars they all take Bianca to the local family physician, Dr. Dagmar Berman (Patricia Clarkson), just to ensure Bianca's health isn't affected by the sudden change of climate. A sm

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