Monday, January 07, 2008

Muriel Awards 2007 FYC #6

Note: I've re-posted this for StinkyLulu's Best Supporting Actress Blogathon. If you're new to the blog, welcome! If you've been around a while, you've probably already read this. But I won't stop you if you want to read it again.

Best Supporting Actress: Kelli Garner, Lars and the Real Girl

One of the more satisfying experiences one can have as a moviegoer is to see an actress come into her own before your eyes. Garner has been working in movies since roughly the beginning of the decade, appearing occasionally in good movies (remember her as Faith Domergue in The Aviator?) but mostly taking roles in middling fare. But while her material has sometimes let her down, she's always been interesting onscreen, even distinguishing her role in 2005's Man of the House- not easy when you're surrounded by a dopey cheerleader-themed policier. With Lars and the Real Girl, she finally gets a compelling role and makes it sing. As Margo, a small-town wallflower type who nurses a crush on Ryan Gosling's Lars, she has one of the movie's biggest acting challenges- to convincingly play a character who pines for a man whose current girlfriend is a realistic sex doll. Yet Garner makes the character plausible- and even more miraculously, completely engaging and adorable. Garner usually gets cast as ditzy sexpot types, but there's always been a clumsy, dorky undercurrent to her performances, which complicates the stereotypical characters she's usually called upon to play. But Lars foregrounds this element of Garner's onscreen persona, and in her sweet way, she's just as awkward as- though certainly better-adjusted than- Lars. In particular, she has a little moment when she and Lars go bowling, and she gets a strike and does a funky little dance of celebration. It's sort of magical- she projects the kind of unguarded glee you can only show when completely at ease with those around you, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I fell a little in love with the character right then. Garner has finally found her niche as an actress- let's hope more filmmakers take notice.


James said...

Paul, did you ever see Larry Clark's Bully? That's one of my favorites, and she's really good in it. Her key scene is where she's describing her mother's childhood trauma, and on every repeat viewing I'm always impressed with how well this young actress is able to convincingly nail this fucked up girl semi-casually expressing her own wretched background.

Paul C. said...

I haven't seen Bully in ages, but I remember that was the first time I took notice of her. I think I'll have to check it out again one of these days.

What really impresses me about her is how natural she always manages to be onscreen- not an easy task in a role like the one she has in Lars. For most actresses, this role would invite an almost unwatchably mannered performance. It takes a performer with a preternatural ability to simply exist onscreen to pull it off, and that's a talent that exists almost outside traditional "acting" ability. Nonetheless, it's invaluable, and should be recognized whenever we find it.

Robert said...

Hooray for the ladies of Lars!!!! I really hope Garner's performance (which is fantastic) helps push her career forward.

I'm celebrating Emily Mortimer on my blog. Check it out!

Todd said...

I'm sure that our pleas will fall on deaf ears but Kelli Garner's performance in Lars and the Real Girl is perfection. It is completely Oscar worthy and will unfortunately garner (no pun intended) no Oscar nominations nor any Golden Globes. What a shame! The entire movie is a complete triumph. A plot this implausible should never have even been viewable but between Ryan Gosling's astounding Lars and Kelli Garner's gentle, patience and oh-so-vulnerable Margo, this love story works! When Lars warns her that he can't cheat on Bianca (a sex doll, of course) her tender admission that she would never do that is tragic and beautifully sincere. I was floored! Magically, unexpectedly and shockingly comical and sentimental, this is a love story that beyond it"s absurdity, captures what it is to be frightened by love, desperate for love and determined to be loved and love in return. This is a beautiful motion picture. Kelli Garner should be celebrated. Ryan Gosling will most certainly be.

Todd said...

By the way, I don't mean to overlook Emily M. She is incredible, as well. The whole cast is as perfect as an acting troop can be.