Friday, April 24, 2009

movie review: lars and the real girl

this is the story of lars. he's a sweet, reclusive man who lives in his brother's garage and does whatever it takes to avoid human interaction. he develops a delusion wherein he believes that his new 'real girl' doll, a life-sized, highly detailed sex doll, is an actual person. his brother and sister in law freak right out, unsurprisingly, but the witty, wise, beautiful family doctor/ shrink (!?!?!?) tells them to play along with it. lars brings his 'girlfriend' to church, an office party, his childhood haunts, etc.

most of the acting is excellent (although bianca, lars' 'girlfriend' is a little stiff.... *giggle* *snort*) the setting is perfect and the story is both sweet and interesting.

i do, however, have a couple of problems with the film.

it's the job of filmmakers to construct a scenario and the job of an audience to believe it's real. when the filmmakers do their job right (the truman show or et, for example) the audience easily believes a fairly ridiculous situation to be real. it's called suspension of disbelief. i had a hard time suspending my disbelief while watching this film. the people are too good. a gentle, lonely man goes crazy and carries an anatomically correct, well endowed doll around with him, talking to him. everyone he encounters looks at him askance for about three seconds and then plunges headlong into pretending it's normal. a whole midwestern small town cheerfully goes along with the ruse, even forming emotional attachments to the inanimate object. if just a few people had persisted in finding the whole thing ludicrous the movie would have worked for me. but a whole town commiting to helping out a man with a mental problem? the stereotype sticks in my throat. the actors may as well have worn placards that said 'this is a small town in the midwest and 'round here we support each other and stick together, goll'durn it!'

my other issue is the way the movie repeatedly opens potentially interesting cans of worms and then abandons them. lars' horror of physical contact, his terror when confronted with the idea of childbirth, his desire for a rite of passage, his relationships with his brother, sister in law, doctor and the cute girl at work... i understand that there isn't time in the movie to really delve into multiple complex subjects, but rushing past all these topics was annoying and frustrating.

all in all, this movie was ok. it had huge potential and failed to live up to it, but it wasn't terrible.

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