Lars and the Real Girl

Lars and the Real Girl (2007) movie poster

(2007) dir. Craig Gillespie
viewed: 04/28/08

Who would think that a comedy about a man and his sex doll would be a chick flick?

Actually, this comedy/dramedy, though featuring a sex doll, is the kind of movie my mom would have loved.  It’s a sweet-natured film about a gentle, troubled small town man and his emotional delusion (his belief that his internet-ordered sex doll is a real person with a significant backstory) and how the town supports him, sees him through this situation and ultimately “heals” him.

It’s cute.  It’s sweet.  But, like Juno (2007) which I also just recently saw, the world that these quirks inhabit is a complete fantasy, perhaps far more so here in Lars and the Real Girl, a small town America where all the community (co-workers, friends, churchmembers, family, the entire freaking community) all supports Lars’ delusion of a sex doll girlfriend as a real human being.  In fact they imbue her with further and further life, creating a life for an individual who has no consciousness.  There is never a real moment of challenge to this delusion.  It’s a fantasy of America that may be what Americans would love to imagine, good-heartedness, support, love, all around.  Mental illness is not ugly, just goofy, and curable with love and support.

There is probably even more here to consider, with a figure of the sex doll.  What does this say about the American community?  Is she an individual in her physical existence?  She gets a funeral.  Is she like a Pinocchio who just doesn’t actually come to life?  Does it take nothing but presence to maintain existence?  Is there some deeper metaphysical question raised by the film?

I don’t know.  The film was cute enough, but I found it delusional itself that such a world exists in which such a situation could ever happen.  It’s a fantasy of a world with no real challenges, no genuine pain or turmoil, no blood, no bodily fluids at all.  I mean, this is one to watch with the in-laws, it doesn’t get creepy.  It gets cute and sweet.  I think that is fine in a lot of ways, but I also am finding that I am troubled by its false simplicity.

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