A 2007 American comedy/drama film, directed by Craig Gillespie.
Lars (Ryan Gosling) is a quiet, somewhat asocial man. He lives in a garage next to the house of his brother Gus (Paul Schneider), and has a crippling fear of personal interaction. A co-worker, Margo (Kelli Garner), is interested in him, but he avoids anything more than brief encounters.
One day, he comes to Gus' door and says that he's met a girl over the internet — a sweet, wheelchair-bound missionary named Bianca. Gus and his expecting wife, Karin (Emily Mortimer), are eager to agree that she can stay over. But the "girl" turns out to be a bit less... alive than they imagined. It seems that Lars has finally gone crazy, and has fallen in love with a Real Doll sex doll, believing she's a real woman.
After taking Bianca and Lars to see the family doctor/psychologist Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson), she tells Gus and Karin that, for whatever reason, Lars has convinced himself that Bianca is alive and trying to tell him otherwise would only hurt his already fragile mental condition. So they, and the rest of their small town, all agree to play along with the illusion simply to make Lars feel at home with his new love.
This film provides examples of:
- Allergic to Love: Lars literally runs away from Margo when she tries to approach him after church
- Ambiguous Disorder: It's never explicitly said what it is, but Lars clearly has some form of mental disorder, being especially socially off and feeling pain from regular contact.
- Artistic License Medicine: A delusion does not go away by nurturing it, therefore the APA advises that it is not a good idea to go along with a mentally disturbed person's delusions, as it will only cause the person to further regress into them. That's, of course, if you see Bianca as a delusion rather than a coping mechanism or practice girlfriend (similar to a teddy bear or imaginary friend) as the film suggests. Therapists have been known to go along with such things, provided it's not preventing the patient from functioning in life.
- Character Development: Lars goes from being painfully shy to becoming a rather talkative individual.
- Companion Cube: The doll Bianca becomes one to Lars, though he believes and tests her as an actual person.
- Death By Child Birth: Lars and Gus' mother. This and Lars' treatment at the hands of his heartbroken father give Lars a fear of childbirth, especially in regard to Karin's soon-to-be-born baby.
- Death of the Hypotenuse: Bianca; could also be seen as Murder the Hypotenuse, as Lars was the one who said she was dying
- Flexibility Equals Sex Ability: A guy at the party asks Lars if Bianca is "flexible". Lars does not answer that question and walks away annoyed, but his coworker does in the affirmative.
- Girl in a Box: Bianca quite literally comes in a box (although, despite the title, she's not a real girl.
- Hates Being Touched: Played very much not for laughs, Lars' mind interprets any kind of physical contact as pain.
- I Have This Friend...: Bianca, like Lars, lost both of her parents at a young age - her mother even died in childbirth.
- Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Subverted. Wheelchair-bound Bianca touches the lives of all those around her and brings the town together to help Lars, making her a classic example of the trope. Except for the part where she's a sex doll.
- Massive Multiplayer Scam: The entire town knows Lars' new "girlfriend" is a sex doll. They pretend she's real anyways, going so far as to give her a job and take her to volunteer events.
- Maternal Death? Blame the Child!: Lars and Gus' mother died from giving birth to Lars, and their father was emotionally distant towards Lars as a result. This turns out to be the main source of Lars' issues.
- Minnesota Nice: The townspeople and their gradual acceptance of Bianca.
- Mixed Ancestry: Bianca is supposedly of Brazilian and Danish descent.
- No Antagonist: The story has no villain or antagonist, resolving instead around Lars and his mental health.
- Operation: Jealousy: It's implied that Margo was only dating someone to get Lars to notice her.
- Pregnant Badass: Karin tackles Lars to the ground in order to get him to come to dinner
- Product Placement: One big... really wacky and emotional product placement for Real Dolls.
- Single-Issue Psychology: Averted. Lars' psychological problems come from an entire childhood spent with an emotionally distant father who acted like he blamed Lars for his mother's death.
- Snow Means Love: An end-of-season flurry greets Lars and Margo outside the bowling alley.
- Super Doc: Dagmar is both a medical doctor and a psychiatrist because "you have to be this far north."