Lars and the Real Girl
I’ve watched romantic comedies before, usually more for the comedy than the romance. Honestly romance as a movie genre doesn’t thrill me all that much.
However, there is one film that has stuck with me and I will always love it for its absolutely wonderful portrayal of love in so many facets of the word: Lars and the Real Girl
Released back in 2007 the film stars Ryan Gosling, your prototypical romance movie protagonist...except not. Unlike the Ryan Gosling who made women swoon in The Notebook this Ryan Gosling is different.
Because Lars is...special.
They never really give him a label, which is another thing I love this film for, but you can tell pretty early on that Lars isn’t normal. He’s dorky, polite, clean-cut, and has this adorable innocence that makes him seem like a child trapped in a man’s body, especially when it becomes obvious he’s still a virgin despite his sweet demeanor. Yet he functions at his job, has a wide social network, and besides living with his brother and sister-in-law he seems perfectly normal on the outside.
Until he randomly orders a life size sex doll online and introduces her to everyone as his girlfriend, Bianca, who he is Don Quixote serious about dating.
At this point most folks would have put poor Lars in a facility and let him work out his issues from there. But not so this incredible cast of family, coworkers, and church friends. Nope. With the guidance of Lars’ therapist all of his friends and family completely play up his delusion. Bianca becomes a part of their small community - they take her out, help dress her up, invite her to social events, chat with her, and treat her with all the respect due a real girl.
As Lars works out his issues - which quickly become very, very deep and painful - you watch the people who love him struggle and then lean even harder into the shared delusion. So hard. It’s incredible, everytime I watch it, because the film isn’t just about romantic love - it’s about pure, unfiltered, ride-or-die kinda love from normal, well-meaning folk who have utterly accepted a sex doll into their lives without backing down. It’s heartwrenching, heartwarming, and utterly amazing.
And there is a little insinuated romance - not just with Bianca (gasp - drama!) - and even that gets portrayed with the same kind of care and pure intent that utterly defines Lars, both as a character as well as a focal point for so many dedicated hearts. Probably the most poignant point the film makes is how truly difficult and painful real romance can be.
It might not be a traditional romantic movie, but it’s definintely one that strikes real chords. Ryan Gosling’s performance along with so many others is also amazing, and I didn’t even watch The Notebook (nope, never going to, don’t bother commenting).