#3 Lars and the Real Girl
I love this movie. I loved it so much I watched it several times in a row- which is extremely rare for me. I loved it so much, I went through the awkwardness of recommending it to my family.
“Hey, Mom, Dad there’s this really cool movie you should see.
“Oh? What’s it about?”
“Um... yes.. well it’s about a guy who buys a sex doll online, but really, it’s not that kind of movie.”
I told them not to read the description on the Netflix cover (which makes it sound like that kind of movie), and to give it at least 10 minutes in before they made any solid judgment. As the credits rolled, they told me it was definitely worth watching.
In my opinion, this film literally has the best portrayal of a Christian church I have ever seen in a movie.
That doesn’t help the awkwardness of the premise. Yes, it is about a guy who buys a sex doll online. Please hear me out.
Lars is an extreme introvert. He barely speaks to his own brother and sister-in-law and mostly hides in their garage-turned apartment.
Then “Bianca” shows up. Just as you’re afraid this movie is going to be crude and raunchy- Lars knocks on his brother’s door asking if his girlfriend “Bianca” could stay with him and his wife. Right off the bat Lars states it would be improper for Bianca to stay with him as they are both young and unmarried.
Interesting. So what is this movie really about? The first scene where Lars introduces his family to Bianca is hilarious. They all sit around awkwardly and listen to Lars talk about and to this mannequin as if she were a real girl. The acting is stellar.
Lars’s family take him to a psychiatrist hoping he can be cured from this odd delusion (the same thought probably occurred to my family after I recommended them this film). Instead of sending him off to the funny farm, the doctor challenges Lars’s passive brother and over-bearing sister-in-law to... play along. It seems that Lars purchased Bianca- not for physical use but as an emotional support. He wants a relationship- but can’t seem to connect to real people.
This is where the Christians come in. The first place this couple turns to is their church. In this movie, the church seems to make up a large part of the community, and although some are portrayed as a bit ignorant, they are never demeaned or played as stuck up prudes. In the wrong hands, this film would have been a disaster. As it is.. well listen to my favorite scene.
The church elders gather together with Lars’ family to discuss the whole awkward “Lars thinks this doll is real” thing. It comes up that he might bring her to church. Should they allow it?
The pastor ends the discussion with this line: “The real question is: What would Jesus do?”
And they do exactly what I believe Jesus would have done. They open up their arms to Lars and his family. Emotional support for everyone. Bianca is offered flowers in welcome.
With the community’s love and support, Lars finally begins to have relationships with real people. His transformation is incredible- and you know it’s because these people love him and want to help him, no matter how weird or awkward his problems appear.
When Bianca becomes “sick”, the ladies of the church bring food and sit around with Lars.
“This is what we do,” one explains to him.
Isn’t that what we should do? This movie is a bizarre combination of sweet, silly, awkward and profound. The real church is faced with similar awkwardness every day. How do we treat people who are divorced? Former drug addicts? Homosexuals practicing and not?
“Lars” doesn’t give a solution to all of those, but to me it shows how a community can band together and show love despite the awkwardness.
The fact Bianca is a sex doll is not a main theme- it could have been done with a mannequin without changing the core of the story. There are a few awkward conversations about the fact she is a sex doll- but it did not go as far or as raunchy as to repulse me.
Whether they meant it or not- I find an interesting profundity in Bianca. She was made for a bad purpose- but she is never used in the way she was intended. Lars treats her with respect, dignity and honor. By the end of the movie, he is able to let her go and have real relationships with real people.
Christian filmmakers often talk about “Redeeming” or “Reclaiming” the art of film for God. That means taking something that might be used for evil, and using it for good. That is exactly what happens to Bianca in “Lars and the Real Girl”
A bit awkward? Yes.
Worth a watch? Definitely yes.