I’m proud to admit that the main reason I wanted to see Lars and the Real Girl is because I’m a Ryan Gosling fan. I loved his work in The Notebook, Stay, and Fracture, so I figured as strange as Lars and the Real Girl sounded, I’d give it a shot.
If you ask anyone, they’ll tell you Lars and the Real Girl is about a guy who falls in love with a sex doll. On the absolute most superficial surface, yes, that’s what this movie is about.
However, what it’s really about is a repressed young man who absolutely has no idea how to interact with the world. His mother died giving birth to him, and his older brother left him with their equally antisocial father. So after the father dies, years later, the older brother and his wife return to share the father’s house with Lars. Lars, being a genuinely good man, lets them have the whole house and moves into the garage.
Lars forever wears a baby blanket his mother made him around his neck as a scarf. When he discovers his sister-in-law is pregnant, his awkward behavior intensifies. You realize that he is suffering from a crippling fear that she will die giving birth as well, but he has no idea how to verbalize or even address these fears.
Enter Bianca. Bianca is a sex doll Lars orders online. The minute she arrives, Lars begins acting more normal and even happy. When he brings Bianca over for dinner, his brother, Gus, and sister-in-law, Karin, are at a loss, but they don’t attack him over it. Instead they watch as Lars interacts with Bianca as though she’s truly speaking to him, and he then asks if she can stay in the house because she’s very religious and doesn’t want to give the wrong image. This is very important because it allows the audience to realize that sex with the doll is the last thing on Lars’ mind. He needed a companion and something to help him get through his anxieties, and Bianca was the answer.
Karin suggests they take Bianca, who, according to Lars, was just in from Brazil, to the doctor to make sure she hasn’t suffered any illness as a result of her travels. This, of course, is really a subtle way of getting Lars to the doctor. The doctor pretends Bianca is real, and she later explains to Karin and Gus that Lars is experiencing a delusion, but he’s not schizophrenic. Her suggestion is to treat Bianca like a real person and see what happens.
Before long, the entire town gets in on the act. Bianca becomes a thriving member of their community, even getting elected to the school board. It’s not that the town believes she’s real; it’s that they all love Lars so much that they’re willing to do anything to help him through this possibly life-long phase.
Before long, Lars undergoes several growing experiences that I believe ultimately leads to his relinquishing Bianca, though in a slow, heartbreaking, and natural process … relatively speaking.
I adore this movie. My wife and I both were all-but crying at its conclusion because Gosling completely immerses himself in Lars’ quirks and Lars’ emotions. Plus, the message is so absolutely touching. I felt ashamed because throughout the movie I kept expecting some jerk to get on Lars’ case, but it never happened. Lars and Bianca were accepted at Church, at office parties, at the bowling alley, at the hospital-everywhere. And I felt shame because I forgot that when dealing with people face to face, when dealing with people you know, they will usually do right by you. People are good. People do care. And it took this movie to help me realize I shouldn’t always assume the worst, most people in this world really are kind and generous.
Seriously, I implore you to watch this movie if you haven’t done so. It’s labeled a comedy, but you’ll be amazed at the emotional depth of it. It is so much more than just a movie about a guy who falls in love with a sex doll.