review

Review: Lars and the Real Girl

There’s something irrevocably odd about Lars Lindstrom. He seems to be the consummate loner. Completely willing and able to see people no more than he needs to, while always being friendly to those he does see. He’s a good worker and a church-goer. He lives in a run-down garage next to his parents old house, where his brother and wife live. He seems in no hurry to find a girlfriend, but as he tells the nice lady at church, he’s not gay.

And one day, Lars receives a very large package. That evening, he knocks on his brothers door to report–with a wide grin on his face–that he has someone over. Relieved as they are, his brother and his wife willingly offer to let the girl stay in their house. They even have new towels she can use to bathe.

It’s when they finally meet Bianca that they’re appalled to learn that the Brazilian emigre isn’t real, but an inanimate doll. Worse still, she’s clearly meant primarily to fulfill the sexual pleasures of lonely men like Lars.

And so it begins. I could go on, but I’d likely end up gleefully–and poorly–reporting the whole story. There’s no question that Lars is, as they used to say, touched. But whether for good or ill, to what effect on him and the small New England town in which he lives, I’ll not say.

I’ll merely say that Lars and the Real Girls is one of those stories I could tell, from first explanation, I’d be rather enamored with. The posing of difficult philosophical questions–what is reality? what is living? what is loneliness? what is community? what is maturity?–through the device of mild absurdity is one of my oldest favorites.

If, unlike me, you find the whole idea rather pointlessly absurd, I cannot speak to your view of the film. It’s unquestionable that the film requires more than one suspension of disbelief to be taken quite as seriously as it takes itself.

But if you can take the leap and accept Bianca as a real girl, you’re in for a rather enjoyable ride. A ride that offers for your consideration whole reams of questions about what it means to grow up, what it means to be responsible, and what it means to be real. Lars and the Real Girl doesn’t explicitly offer the answers to these questions, but the way it asks the questions is better than most things I’ve seen before.

Standard