Thursday, April 24, 2008

Lars and the Real Girl, by Craig Gillespie (2007)

Loved this movie even more than Juno. I wonder how many went in knowing it was about Lars (Ryan Gosling) having a relationship with a RealDoll, only to have that knowledge swept away from them. Sure, he does have a RealDoll, her name is Bianca, he bought her off the net, and he constructs a fairly elaborate backstory and set of interests for her. He presents to his family and community as his girlfriend and they knock about together, as much as one can with a life sized plastic doll:
Of course, his family is concerned, his brother is angry with him, wants to knock him down for his idiocy but Lars is recognised not to be well and the whole community eventually goes along with the notion that Bianca is real, and she does take on a sort of reality for the community. But as Lars sister in law, Karin (Emily Mortimer) makes it clear - this is for love of Lars - Bianca acts as some sort of catalyst for this to come out into the open. Sure, it is a bit of an idealised world, but if we can't get to see ideals in our fictions, where the hell do we get to see them realised? And just maybe the film was made with the notion in mind that communities don't actually behave like this but asks the question "what if they did?"

But the real story is about Lars. We see very little of him before Bianca's arrival, but I'd say he doesn't get out very much, has a lot of trouble socialising, is more than a little sad
And let's not forget the title - there is a real girl, she works with Lars, is really rather taken with him and is simply impossibly cute: This is Margo (Kelli Garner). I loved the little skips of joy she'd do while she was bowling.

I'm no expert in psychology, but it seems to me that somehow, despite whatever was ailing Lars, he was able to recognise both that Kelli was into him in a big way and that he needed somehow to fix himself to be able to take on that role, to be a man. One possible thing that is ailing him is guilt or hurt over the fact his mother died in giving birth to him - he needs to mourn her death properly. And so Bianca is the prop he needs to make that breakthrough (although it is a bit odd that he takes her as a girlfriend if she's the mechanism to mourn his mother).

But I know how hard it can be to get involved in social activities when there's just the one of you, it is much easier to stay at home and read, or blog, or whatever. And so I get how inventing a companion to spur you into action, to join into the social world, might seem to be a good way out. I saw this most clearly when he went to his workmate's party: he was getting ready to bolt, but he'd made a commitment to Bianca to take her, and so he pressed the bell and went in. He socialises more and more as the movie goes on, even manages to have a sort of date with Kelli (not that he'd cheat on Bianca, of course) and his subconscious tells him when Bianca needs to bow out and how to make it happen.



Anonymous patrick said...

just saw Lars and the Real Girl, Ryan Gosling did a great job playing out his character's psychological transition from totally dysfunctional to somewhat functional

2:34 AM  

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