One of my favorite artist is MC Escher, who made 3D images on 2D paper. He was intrigued by how easily people were fooled into believing a 2D image was 3D. He played tricks on the viewers of his art, but we still see a 3D image on the flat page.
Movies are not real. They are filled with actors, sets, lights, and scripts. It’s all made up. And yet, we look at a film and it can make us cry, or laugh, or feel rage at an unjust world.
Lars and The Real Girl is an extraordinary film. This is one of those films that slipped by when it was released. I’m not sure I would have gone to see it anyway, it is a pretty strange topic. So maybe you should go and watch it now, without knowing any more about it than I did. The surprises are the fun parts.
Lars is an odd fellow that lives in the garage of his family home. Lars’ brother lives in the house with his pregnant wife, who is always trying to get Lars to come into the house for dinner. But Lars is not interested in his brother or his sister-in-law. Lars doesn’t seem to be interested in much of anything. He has a job and he goes to church, where we see a woman who is clearly interested in Lars, but who Lars tends to ignore as he ignores everyone.
One day at work a friend tells him about a website he has found which sells life sized sex dolls which are anatomically correct. A few weeks later a large crate is delivered to Lars home. Soon after Lars tells his brother and sister-in-law that he would like to have dinner with them and that he is bringing his new girlfriend with him. They are both shocked and delighted that Lars is coming out of his shell and has met someone. They are more shocked when Lars brings over the life sized sex doll in a wheel chair. Lars tells them that she needs clothes and that she will need to stay in the house as she is a Christian and cannot spend her nights with him.
In the small community where Lars lives, everyone likes him and wants to help him. So Bianca, Lars’ love doll, takes on a life of her own. As the story moves forward it seems that more people know and love Bianca than Lars. She volunteers at the hospital, where she reads to children, she is elected to the school board, she has a lot of friends who help her with her clothes and hair. Lars’ brother tucks her in at night. Lars’ sister-in-law bathes her, as he is wheel chair bound and can’t do things for herself.
Bianca’s busy life makes Lars jealous and they end up having a huge fight-to which Lars’ sister-in-law says in shock-They never fight. One thing leads to another and Bianca falls ill and dies. Everyone in town shows up for the funeral and there are photos of Bianca doing all the things she loved to do in the town. Bianca’s death is treated as seriously as any death in any other movie-everyone at her funeral is crying and it is a heart wrenching moment. It doesn’t matter that Bianca is nothing but an inanimate life sized sex toy, we still care about her.
Lars changes and grows and in the closing scene of the film asks a real girl to go out with him. I think it’s what Bianca would have wanted.