So we all know what happens when a boy meets a girl, and it looks like Hollywood film makers are sick of telling us the same old tale.
Instead, they have moved on to create more peculiar love stories, about odd-ball romances between boys and objects that are not quite girls.
Whilst the following films are only fanciful works of fiction, they give us a peek into the possible future of modern relationships and what can happen when the line between lunacy and love is blurred.
Her, Spike Jonze
If after watching the trailer for Her you thought the film would tell a simple yet endearing tale of a loner who falls in love with his computer’s operating system, emancipating himself from a life of solitude, you wouldn’t have been alone.
However you would have been completely wrong because this movie is way more complicated than that.
For starters, said loner, Theodore Twombly (played by Jaoqin Pheonix), is a moustached middle-aged man on the brink of a divorce. He composes personalised love letters for a living and spends his nights alone, either entertaining himself with obnoxious life-sized video games or having futuristic phone sex with equally desperate strangers. All in all, his life is a miserable not-so-hot mess.
But low and behold, Theodore downloads Samantha: a hyper-sophisticated artificial intelligence system who has the superhuman ability to whip his life back into some sort of order and the voice of a voluptuous 5’3» blonde (Scarlett Johansson lends her sensual voice to the role.)
And if that wasn’t enough, we are told that Samantha understands Theodore better than anyone else because her personality is ever so conveniently programmed to compliment his. So when she constantly pacifies his insecurities, compliments his every move and picks out the perfect fluffy pink dress to give to Theodore’s goddaughter, its not long before we see man and machine gallivanting through the city together, blissfully high on L-O-V-E.
To Theodore, Samantha is the perfect girlfriend, despite not having a human body, much less a face or a pulse. But alas, their relationship reaches an inevitable crisis when the couple comes to realise that they are as mismatched for one another as two peas and an iPod.
If I had to describe Her in one word it would have to be almost. It possesses all the right ingredients for an unconventionally charming post-modern love story (albeit some exceedingly awkward semi-love scenes) and the entire film has been shot through a hypnotising afternoon sunshine filter, making it a visual treat.
But when considered as a whole, there is an irrepressible sense that something authentic is fundamentally lacking, much like one of those exotic fruity spice infused flavours of tea. Its description is mouth-watering on paper, but its aftertaste is undoubtedly artificial and the experience leaves you wondering why you didn’t just opt for a regular cup of full bodied chai. It’s not that the film was particularly unpleasant or unsavoury per se, but much like the romance shared between the film’s main characters, its conclusion just wasn’t quite enough to leave me completely satisfied.
Okay, let me just take a moment to be completely honest. Any movie featuring Ryan Gosling as its male lead is automatically going to receive an above average rating from me (and probably any other heterosexual female who grew up singing «I want you and your beautiful soooooul»).
But the reason why Lars and the Real Girl is an absolute rom-com standout may actually take you by surprise: Gosling wears a minimum of 3 layers of clothing in about 97% of the scenes, yet at the end of the day he still manages to make me swoon. And this is truly against all odds, as his character, Lars, is the complete opposite of the eternally sexy and smooth-talking individual that women all around the world have drooled over since The Notebook. And might I dare say that watching him portray an awkward and clinically delusional recluse was far more enjoyable than seeing him unveil his cheese-grater stomach in Crazy Stupid Love.
In Lars and the Real Girl, Gosling takes the form of a 20-something year old man who lives in his brother’s garage; habitually lurking in shadows and avoiding social interactions at all costs. At first it’s unsettling, because it’s not the Ryan that we’re used to, but his delivery is earnest and very convincing to say the least. However all this begins to change upon the arrival of Lars’ girlfriend, Bianca. The real ingenuity of Gosling’s performance emerges in his one-sided interactions with Bianca, a life-sized sex doll that he has purchased online and treats as his real life wheelchair-bound girlfriend with all the gentlemanly respect that you would expect from Jesus Christ himself.
But as you can imagine, his behaviour is not exactly well received by those around him, particularly his guilt-stricken older brother, Gus. But as Lars’ work mates, fellow churchgoers and Midwest American townspeople eventually begin to treat Bianca as a real human being, their relationship with the vinyl love doll becomes as cathartic for them as it is for Lars.
Frankly, there are a hundred ways that this movie could have been a total flop. But its brilliance is how adroitly it manages to sidestep them. Undoubtedly, its weapon is an uncompromisingly sincere script. That, and top-notch performances from an all-round exceptional cast. Each character has been beautifully realised, with Emily Mortimer as Lars’ super caring sister-in-law, and Patricia Clarkson as the empathetic physician who gently guides Lars back to sanity, lending extra touches of heart-warming brilliance.
So to summarise, it is my humble opinion that Ryan Gosling is without a doubt the perfect man and Lars and the Real Girl is a must see if you ever need your faith in the goodness of humanity to be restored.