Tuesday, July 01, 2008

When Fake Women Are Real Characters

Amybear mentioned that we watched Lars and the Real Girl over the weekend. To my surprise it turned out to be a fun and even heartwarming film.

Lars and the Real Girl is about Lars, an incredibly shy office worker, and his odd attempt to emerge from his self-imposed exile into society at large. It's odd because Lars method of doing this was purchase a Real Doll and then delude himself into thinking it was his Brazilian internet girlfriend Bianca.

Bianca becomes Lars' social crutch. On orders from the local doctor/psychologist, Lars friends and family play along to facilitate this self-treatment. It all results in scenes which are both funny and heartwarming. Bianca grows on the community and is treated like a real girl (complete with volunteer work and girls nights out). In the end, although inanimate, she essentially becomes a character in the story that the characters and the audience can identify with. It's a mind trip.

About the only bad thing I can say about the movie is that suspension of disbelief is required. You have to believe that everyone in this small town will treat an obvious nutcase like Lars with kindness instead of mockery. For that matter you have to believe that lots of people will care about someone who is essentially the town recluse. That's a pretty big pill to swallow.

After seeing both films, I'm sorry that Lars lost to Juno so often during this past awards season. Lars is frankly the better film with the better script. Juno has needlessly indie scenes and jerky plot development. Ellen Page's portrayal of a scared pregnant girl who is putting on a brave face is brilliant, but none of the characters in Juno really develop. In contrast, Lars is brilliantly paced with characters who grow as the plot unfolds. Juno is less than a hundred minutes and it could be more in retrospect. Lars is less than a hundred minutes and you really can't change a thing.

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