It’s Not What You Think

Last night, we took our daughter out for her birthday to see “Lars and the Real Girl.” I’m sure that some were unsure about this, having read the synopsis on Yahoo:

Lars Lindstrom is a loveable introvert whose emotional baggage has kept him from fully embracing life. After years of what is almost solitude, he invites Bianca, a friend he met on the internet to visit him. He introduces Bianca to his brother Gus and his wife Karen and they are stunned. They don’t know what to say to Lars or Bianca–because she is a life-size doll, not a real person and he is treating her as though she is alive. They consult the family doctor Dagmar who explains this is a delusion he’s created–for what reason she doesn’t yet know but they should all go along with it. What follows is an emotional journey for Lars and the people around him.

In reality, the movie film (correction courtesy of nsshere) is an unexpected gem.

Lars (Ryan Gosling) is an extremely introverted IT office worker for whom touch is painful, with a co-worker into porn and action figures. Lars is functioning in the real world, but isolating himself. Trying to draw Lars out of the isolation are those who care about him: Karin (Emily Mortimer) and Gus (Paul Schnieder), his pregnant sister-in-law and brother; Margo (Kelli Garner), a single female co-worker, and the rest of the town. Lars reacts to this by ordering a full-size anatomically-correct sex doll, dressing it up and treating it like a real woman, Bianca (note: you always see the doll dressed). The town’s doctor, Dagmar, believes this is a delusion and is Lars’ way of coping with the world. She indicates the town should humor him, while seeing Bianca weekly for her low blood pressure (and talking to Lars at the same time). The town does this, getting Bianca involved in all sorts of activities. Over time, Lars grows in learning how to relate and react to other people, eventually moving from Bianca to the world of real people.

As I said, this was a quiet surprise movie film. No special effects: the strength of the movie film was its acting and its story. The actors were all very strong (well, Bianca’s performance was a bit wooden and stiff), and one really believed this slightly off-beat Minnesota town could exist, with people that care about their own.

I’ll also note that the movie film was believable in a sense. I know people like Lars in real life: folks that isolate themselves from personal relationships and touch for whatever reason, whose families and friends wish for them the joy they have from personal relationships (no, the person who came to mind on this is not on LJ). Lars learns to relate to others through Bianca, who draws him out, and through Dagmar, who teaches him that touch isn’t painful. You have the feeling at the end of the movie that a relationship will blossom between Lars and Margo, all thanks to the groundwork laid by Bianca.

I’ll also note that the theatre we were in was packed. Every seat appeared to be full… and this for an independent movie film that has been out for a month. I’m guessing that word of mouth on this movie film is growing, so I’ll add my recommendation to the pack. Eschew the popular — you don’t need to see “Beowolf”, “Dan in Real Life”, or “Mr. Magorium”. Go see the quiet wonder and the joy that is “Lars and the Real Girl.”


So what’s next on the calendar? Movie-wise, we normally see a movie on Christmas Day, and currently we’re expecting that movie to be the new Tim Burton version of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”, although I fear Tim Burton may have excised too much of the music, and over-emphasized the drama and the gore (of course, this means it will be successful as a movie). We also saw a preview for the movie “Persopolis”, an animated movie about the fall of the Shah of Iran and its effect on an Iranian family. This looked quite interesting, and is another possibility. It appears that Lars turned our daughter into someone liking art movies.

As for non-movies, that resumes next week with “The Unexpected Guest” at REP East (Myspace) on 11/24 @ 8pm. This is followed by “Ray Charles Live” at the Pasadena Playhouse on 12/1 @ 8pm; Tom Paxton at McCabes on 12/2 @ 7:30pm; and the highly anticipated “The Stinky Cheese Man And Other Fairly Stupid Tales” at Nobel Middle School on 12/6 @ 7pm, 12/7 @ 7pm, and maybe 12/8 @ 5pm.