Thursday, October 1, 2009
And now for something completely different... Lars and the Real Girl
I hadn't expected to love a movie about a synthetic woman and the community who loves her (she gets elected to the school board). Okay, Lars and the Real Girl isn't really about the fake doll, Bianca, but about her "boyfriend", Lars (Ryan Gosling) and his relationship with his family and the community of which he is part. I expected this to be a fairly seedy story of a man who couldn't or wouldn't deal with women and satisfied himself with a fake girl. It's NOTHING like that. In fact, it's very chaste, with a few sidelong glances from disbelieving neighbors curious at the idea, but nothing unseemly. Lars lives in his brother's garage and is painfully shy (possibly autistic), though holds a job and takes care of himself. He can't talk to the girl he likes at church, and orders a perfectly live side (and anatomically correct) doll online. That's where any of the marketing kind of stops and a totally unique movie takes over. Lars acts completely as if Bianca is real. He introduces her to his brother and pregnant sister in law, explaining that they met online, and she can't walk because someone stole her wheelchair at the airport. Because his family, as well as the entire community, loves Lars, they embrace the tale and try to be nice to and inclusive of Bianca and Lars (not easily at first, but it gets stronger). There are a lot of interesting and humorous moments when we see how the community participates in Lars delusion without mocking him or Bianca. It's a way for Lars to deal with his inability to interact with people, and his dislike of physical contact. He does see a doctor (Patricia Clarkson) because Bianca has a "blood disorder", and they talk while Bianca rests after treatment, and Clarkson helps Lars through his problems without ever saying anything to dissuade him of his delusion.
It's just another wonderful movie, by a first-time director, that makes you think about how a community can come together and what it means to be part of one.
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