Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Say, your  co-worker, classmate, neighbor, or family member suddenly lugging around a 5 ft 10 silicone sex doll, how would you react? Would you scream? Laugh? scared of the display of agalmatophilia? or speechless and found words failed you and suddenly incapable to digest what’s happening?

I remember watching The Beaver (2011) where a depressed CEO on the verge of bankruptcy anf family crisis developed an alternate personality embodied by a beaver hand puppet. While also dealing with personal  matters through the aide of an inanimate object, Lars unconventional relation ship with the sex doll is different than the beaver. Don’t worry, it’s nothing like the erotic premise of watdefak movie that also involved a sex doll.

Lars Lindstorm (Ryan Gosling) is awkward and shy. He chose to isolate himself to live alone in a converted garage away from his only remaining family: his brother, Gus (Paul Schneider), and his pregnant sister in law, Karin (Emily Mortimer). At work or at church he was distant, he does not interact or relate well to others. One day Lars announced to his family that he’ll be bringing a guest to dinner. Imagine the surprise of Gus and Karin when Lars showed up with a wheelchair bound sex doll named Bianca.

After the initial shock, the worried Gus and Karin brought Lars (and Bianca) to Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson), a family doctor who also acts as a psychologist. She continues to give Lars a therapy while giving Bianca medical treatments for her sickness. Dagmar advised the couple to assist and support Lars throughout the Bianca period, and the two tried to make everything easier for Lars by asking the understanding of others too.

There were a scene of a dialogue between church members, the priest, and Gus and Karin. As Gus and Karin explained Lars’ condition to them, the initial reaction was varied. From blatant rejection and disgust, to an unparalleled empathy and understanding, shown by one of the wisest figure in the film, and finally reached a conclusion as the priest settled the differences.

It is interesting to see how a sudden appearance of a sex doll can change the lives of many, not only Lars’ but also the people of the town. As the story progresses and Lars began to introduce Bianca to the people of the town, brought her to sunday mass at church, to a party with his co-worker. Despite there are people who hesitate and mock behind their back, there’s more people that help through treating Bianca like a real person. Bianca existence create a shift of balance in Lars life, but also affects the people around him and forced them to take a hard look at themselves.

Lars and his town interact with Bianca invites heart-warmed smiles and amused laughters as well as heart-wrenched tears for me. Ryan Gosling portrays of Lars delicately and with fragility. His constricted emotion was wrapped in shyness and withdrawal.  There were no dramatized emotion, just subtle shifts of behavior that reflects the internal turmoil inside, but that subtlety works so well in this film.

There are a profound statement embedded within the 106 minutes run of this movie. It criticize the state of society, where tolerance and humanity become decreasingly forgotten and ignored. (I found it ironic that story about inanimate object can promote humanity). It was moved and come to loved the movie :)

“Remember that there are two kinds of beauty: one of the soul and the other of the body. That of the soul displays its radiance in intelligence, in chastity, in good conduct, in generosity, and in good breeding, and all these qualities may exist in an ugly man. And when we focus our attention upon that beauty, not upon the physical, love generally arises with great violence and intensity.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Lars and the Real Girl was the first screenplay by Nancy Oliver and it  was nominated for Best Original Screenplay category on the 80th Academy Awards (lost to Juno). It is also the directorial debut of  Australian film director Craig Gillespie.

All pictures are taken from IMDb

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