"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Movie Review: Lars and the Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl chronicles the blunders of a delusional anti-social office worker named Lars Lindstrom who forms an unusual relationship with a blow up sex doll named Bianca. Despite what you may think, this film never goes for the easy joke and pulls it all off with just a PG-13 rating.

Now imagine you're at a house party and lots of people from the community are there. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an office co-worker steps in pushing a blow up doll in a wheel chair. A doll named Bianca you heard of through whispers in the community and that memo sent the night before.

This is the kind of situation you might come across in a small isolated community in north Wisconsin. The town isn't named in the movie but it's your small, quaint American town of anywhere. The people there are close knit and look after each other; probably one of the main reasons Lars isn't immediately shipped off to a mental institution for someone else to deal with.

Lars is a man so introverted and afraid of intimacy he wears three layers of clothing and puts on gloves when he shakes peoples hands. One night he orders a plastic sex toy off the Internet much to the dismay of his brother Gus (played by Paul Schneider) and sister-in-law Karin (wonderfully played by Emily Mortimer) who share a house with Lars.

Right from the start Lars talks about Bianca as if she were a real person, giving her a whole history, language and culture. Realizing their brother may have a problem, Gus and Karin support him by enlisting the help of a family doctor/psychiatrist who tells them, and everyone else in the town, to play along. Gus begrudgingly goes along with it while his compassionate and ever-caring wife Karin embraces the idea instantly.And then suddenly the whole town is talking to Bianca, some even driving her to meetings and shindigs with the locals. At one point, Bianca even gets elected on the school board.

This is primarily a story of openness and love found in an unexpected place. Like other movies showcasing characters with psychological problems, we all care. We want to see Lars fixed and so does everyone in town, including Margo, a church choir girl and office co- worker with a not so secret crush on Lars.

This movie could come off as either ridiculous or charming, one or the other. The soundtrack of the film is full of acoustic melodies that lulled me off into a fantasy-land where something like this could happen. Bianca is handled so respectfully that I ended up accepting her like the community without trying too hard.

In the end, I found this movie to be quite charming. If you're in for a light-hearted off-kilter cute comedy of such subject matter, you should make a beeline for the cinema or the movie rental store, because this movie is a one of a kind.

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