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 At dinner with his family, he is withdrawn and barely eats.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.

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Kit Dunsmore

Kit Dunsmore has believed in the magic underlying the muggle world since she was a child searching for the Shetland pony pooka she was sure was hiding in her back yard. She learned early on that books were magic doors into other worlds, and that she could revisit a beloved character or place by opening the right book. As she grew, she decided she wanted to make magic with words, too. Today Kit writes about things she loves: poodles and dragons, witches and artists, quirky underdogs and loyal friends. Whether her setting is 6th-century England, the imaginary Twelve Kingdoms, or an art-obsessed version of modern America, magic always finds its way into her story. She enjoys turning fairy tales inside out and watching characters sacrifice everything to reach their goal, but she also believes in happy endings. When she isn't writing, Kit experiences magic by making things with her hands. Over the years, she's made quilts, fabric sculptures, collages, sweaters, and blank books. Her newest interest is learning how to spin her own yarn, a skill guaranteed to strengthen one of her many delusions: that she is a self-sufficient pioneer woman. She also thinks she is a hobbit, a witch, an artist, and a good cook. Living in the foothills of Colorado, Kit enjoys the giant skies and prairie landscapes which suit her need for wide open spaces. In addition to hiking through glorious scenery with her husband or imagining herself living in the Middle Ages, Kit works as a pillow for her miniature poodle and polishes the next small piece of her handmade life.

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