only help my unbelief

Movie review: Lars and the Real Girl
June 21, 2008, 9:15 pm
Filed under: Posts

My dear friend Jess said I should add movie reviews to my blog repertoire.

“I rarely agree with them,” I said. “Do you know of any good ones, though?”

“I mean you should write movie reviews on your blog,” she said, knowing that I will now have access to more movies since Christian and I just joined Netflix.

And so I begin my foray into movie reviewing. Just think of me as the next Roger Ebert.

I read a lot of reviews about Lars and the Real Girl before I watched it. As a psychology minor and former behavioral therapist, I’m really interested in mental illness, which is one of the topics of the film.

Basically, Lars is a 20-something single guy who lives in a small town, presumably in Wisconsin since he attends a traditional Lutheran church. He lives in the garage of the house where his brother, Gus, and pregnant sister-in-law, Karen, live. His mother died in childbirth having him, and his father spent all of Lars’ life as a sad and broken old man. As a result, Lars is incredibly lonely. Human touch is actually painful to him.

One day, Lars’ co-worker tells Lars about a Web site where you can order a life-size, anatomically correct doll. While many men’s purposes for a doll like that wouldn’t be appropriate to even reference on this blog, Lars just wants some company, so he orders one for himself and names her Bianca. She doesn’t speak much English, he says, and she used to be a missionary.

The rest of the movie is a journey in mental illness, a story of how Lars’ delusion that Bianca is real ultimately heals him by pushing him out into the real world.

It’s not cheesy at all, and, as Christian said, “I liked the realistic way that it portrayed relationships. It wasn’t over the top, but it was very honest in how it dealt with loneliness and isolation.”

You feel so bad for Lars sometimes, but the scenes where the community rallies around him and plays along with his delusion make your heart swell.

Both Christian’s and my favorite scene is where one of Lars’ co-workers throws a party. He takes Bianca, of course, and while a couple guest quietly mock him, several people – including his future love interest, Margo – defend him valiantly and talk to Bianca like she’s real.

My favorite part of the party scene is when his co-worker’s tall, manly husband dances around with Bianca (who’s in a wheelchair, of course, because she can’t walk).

There was also another point at the party that I really liked. Lars and a few of his female friends are talking about women’s haircuts, and one of them comments on Bianca’s long, dark hair. She says that Lars probably likes her hair long, like most men.

“Oh, I don’t care,” replies Lars. “However she likes it is how I like it.”

He’s such a sweet guy that you “Awwww” at his love for Bianca, but you also want him to learn how to interact with real people.

I asked Christian who his favorite supporting character was, and he said Lars’ brother, Gus, who thinks his brother is crazy, and, when Dagmar the doctor says that Lars has a delusion, quickly snaps, “When will it be fixed?”

But Lars can’t be fixed overnight, and so his brother slowly opens up to him, talking with him about life. At one point Lars asks him how he knew he was a man, and Gus says that it’s when you start doing right, which means not cheating on your woman and taking care of your family, even when it’s hard.

He was my favorite supporting character, too, because it was a very honest portrayal of how someone would feel if their younger sibling essentially had an imaginary friend at the age of 28.

I won’t tell you how it ends, but there is an undercurrent of hope throughout the film that makes you want Lars to be all better and learn the joy of fellowship with others. He gets it, in the end, on his own terms.

As far as objectionable content, there is hardly any bad language, but it’s obviously not a movie for kids. Where Bianca came from could bring up questions for little ones, even though the movie steers clear of crude jokes, which I really appreciated.

It’s a precious movie that’s really very hard to describe. Just watch it. You won’t be disappointed.


2 Comments so far
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I misread the opening of this post as “my dear friend Jesus”…I knew something was wrong when I got to “she said”!

You were missed in the toddler class today…just before snack time a visiting child came in and had a total meltdown that made another child cry… with all the crying, the adults forgot to say the blessing….little Joshua then promptly reminded us and lead us in blessing the cheerios!

I think I might check this movie out while taking the next two days off….thanks for the review!

Comment by Lee

Well, Jesus is my very dearest friend… 🙂

I’m sorry for all the chaos this morning, but glad Joshua was there to keep you on track. I’m not surprised! I was actually at First Pres, because Jerry Bridges (who’s written a ton of awesome books) was preaching. I missed the little ones, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to go. I won’t be there next Sunday, either, because I’m going with Christian to his best friend’s wedding out of town.

I hope you like the movie… let me know what you think!

Comment by chelseykarns

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