FILM REVIEW: LARS AND THE REAL GIRL August 19, 2009Posted by Onely in film review.
Tags: blowup doll, lars and the real girl, movies about singles
I watched this comedy movie, Lars and the Real Girl. And I can’t figure out whether, as a Oneler, I hate the movie or love it. Copious Readers, can you help?
Lars is an introvert who lives next to his brother Gus and sister-in-law Karin. The movie opens with Karin at Lar’s door inviting him to breakfast. She worries about him because, as she has told her brother, he “spends so much time by himself”. After Lars doesn’t come to breakfast, later in the evening she jumps in front of his car, forcing him to brake suddenly. When he darts out of the car to see what the matter is, she asks him to dinner with her and her husband. Crazy woman, huh? Yet in the beginning of the movie, Lars is the one portrayed as wacky and incomplete. There is a backstory having to do with his depressed dad or something, but it doesn’t become clear until three quarters through the movie. Until then, whenever an eligible woman tries to strike up a conversation with Lars, he flinches and flees. There is the usual singlist rhetoric: a woman at church asks him if he’s seeing anyone, then asks him if he’s gay, then tells him it’s not good for him to live alone for too long.
So far, so boring. But THEN it gets wierd. Lars shows up at Gus and Karin’s door saying he has a new “friend” whom he “met on the internet”. He asks if he can bring her to dinner too. Karin and Gus are thrilled, until he shows up for the meal with a lifesize, anatomically correct blowup doll named Bianca. With a straight face, Lars introduces Bianca to the couple. Karin and Gus stare, astonished and horrified, as he talks to her, cuts her food for her, and explains that she normally uses a wheelchair but it was stolen, along with her suitcase, when she flew in from Brazil.
I thought that Lars was possibly just performing some serious head-messing with Gus and Karin. But the couple never even considered the possibility that he was jerking them around as revenge for their nagging. They just immediately assumed he was crazy, and started to play along, albeit with rather shocked faces. If I had brought a blowup doll to my singlist friends’ house, I would hope they’d have taken it as a joke rather than assuming that poor Christina had cracked up in her single desperation, which is what the film portrays as happening to Lars. In the movie, the psychologist says mental illness is sometimes a means of communication, and the best way to help Lars is to go along with his “delusion”.
Even at this point, I was still hoping that Lars was using Bianca to make a point about singlism–but no, he actually thinks she’s real (we know this once we see him take her, alone, to the woods to see a tree house). I was disappointed, but then I started wondering if maybe Lars and Bianca’s relationship is actually a commentary on couple-mania.
What do you think? Here’s a synopsis (SPOILER ALERT) from IMDB:
As time passes, Lars begins to introduce Bianca as his girlfriend to his co-workers and various townspeople. Aware of the situation, everyone reacts to the doll as if she were real, and Bianca soon finds herself involved in volunteer programs, getting a makeover from the local beautician, and working part-time as a model in a clothing store. Due to their acceptance of Bianca, Lars soon finds himself interacting more with people. At work, he takes notice of Margo, and when she reveals she has broken up with her boyfriend, Lars agrees to go bowling with her while Bianca attends a school board meeting. (Onely’s note: It is around this time that in one sterling moment, Lars says, “I asked Bianca to marry me–she said no”.) The two (Lars and Margo) spend a pleasant evening, although Lars is quick to remind Margo he could never cheat on Bianca. She replies she would never expect that of him and tells him she hopes one day to find a man as faithful as he.
One morning, Lars discovers Bianca is unresponsive, and she’s rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Her prognosis isn’t good, and Lars announces Bianca would like to be brought home. News of her illness spreads through town, and everyone whose life has been touched by Bianca brings flowers or food to the Lindstrom home. Gus and Karin suggest Lars and Bianca join them for a visit to the lake. While the couple is hiking, Lars kisses Bianca for the first time, just before she dies.
Bianca is given a funeral all the townspeople attend. After Bianca is buried, Lars and Margo linger at the gravesite and, having come to terms with past traumas, ready to accept adult responsibilities, and filled with newfound self-confidence, he asks her if she would like to take a walk with him, an invitation she happily accepts.
I know the above synopsis is veering into singlism territory with the talk of “adult” responsibilities (implying that before Lars and Margo found each other, they were not adult?). But I don’t care about the synopsis–I care about the movie. What do you think the filmmakers were trying to say?
I have decided: I love the movie. Not because it was anti-singlist in some ways, but because it made me think and laugh.