Movie of the Week: Lars and the Real Girl

LarsThe one-line concept for Lars and the Real Girl borders on revolting: a man orders a life-sized sex doll and introduces it to everyone he knows as his girlfriend.
The reality of this movie is sublime: a man acts out his ideal, loving, and non-physical relationship with another person by interacting with a doll, and the entire community around him supports him as he works through the emotional issues that have been holding him back.
Lars (Ryan Gosling) has a hard time interacting with others. At dinner with his family, he is withdrawn and barely eats. At work he gives everyone the same forced smile and nothing else. Whenever another person touches him, he feels pain. Everyone wishes he had a girlfriend, but Lars knows a relationship with a woman is impossible for him.
Enter Bianca, a life-sized, life-like sex doll. Lars treats her like a living human being. When he first tells his brother and sister-in-law he has a date, he mentions that she is in a wheelchair and on the quiet side.  Gus (Paul Schneider) and Karin (Emily Mortimer) are too delighted to care – until they meet her. Lars holds conversations with Bianca, and interprets her “whispers” for the others. At dinner, he is a lively companion, talking, eating, relaxing to a degree not seen before.
Gus is horrified and convinced that his deluded brother needs to be hospitalized. Karin has other ideas. In the end, they agree to take Lars to the doctor, under the guise of getting Bianca an examination, and the doctor plays along. Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) is a psychologist as well as a doctor, and she believes that mental illness isn’t just a disease, that it can be an opportunity to communicate. She explains that Lars is trying to tell them something, and he needs their help.
Thus begins what becomes a community-wide effort to support Lars as he lives his delusion that Bianca is a real woman. I don’t want to give away any more details for fear of spoiling things, but I can guarantee that this clever script and the delicate performances by the entire cast have memorable results. The magnitude of the love and understanding Lars receives from others is what makes this such a unique and moving film. The word compassion is never mentioned, but the movie drips with it, ultimately showing how compassion towards others leads to healing for all. Charming, optimistic, heart-warming, unpredictable, and full of hope, Lars and the Real Girl is a jewel of a film. Don’t miss it.

This article was written by Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore is a writer and an artist who wants to live in a castle, own a fire-lizard, or at least get snowed in at the library. A Renaissance woman, she is curious about everything and uses writing as an excuse to learn about whatever she likes.

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