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Film / Lars and the Real Girl

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"Those are nice, huh? And they're not real, so they'll last forever."
Lars Lindstrom, giving flowers to Bianca

Lars and the Real Girl is a 2007 American dramedy film, directed by Craig Gillespie.

Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) is a quiet and 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 coworker, Margo (Kelli Garner), is interested in him, but he avoids anything more than brief encounters.

One day, Lars comes to Gus's door and announces he's met a girl over the internet a sweet, wheelchair-bound missionary named Bianca. Gus and his expecting wife, Karin (Emily Mortimer), readily 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.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bianca "dies" and Lars and the whole town are devastated but Lars has grown immensely during their time together and is finally able to start dealing with his issues and maybe even pursue a relationship with Margo.
  • 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 she is an actual person.
  • Death by Childbirth: Lars and Gus's mother. This, and Lars's 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. Her "death" 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.
  • Hates Being Touched: Played very much not for laughs, Lars's mind interprets any kind of physical contact as pain.
  • Hollywood Homely: Surprisingly averted. While Lars seems like the perfect type to be portrayed as looking less-than-average in-universe, the movie never tries to play down his looks. Even with the less-than-flattering clothes he wears (look at the movie poster for an example), it's still Ryan freaking Gosling portraying Lars. Instead, Lars' lack of sex appeal comes from his psychological issues and painfully awkward, shy, introverted demeanor.
  • 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.
  • 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's issues.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Bianca's is a metaphor for Lars's mother's, the death of whom left deep scars on his mind. Since he was an infant when she died and holds so much guilt over it due to his father's abuse (see above entry), this funeral allows him to vicariously grieve for his mother and finally heal the last of his psychological wounds.
  • Minnesota Nice: The townspeople and their gradual acceptance of Bianca.
  • Nice Girl: Margo is very kind and friendly to Lars and helpful with Bianca. Karin as well given her desire to make Lars a bigger part of the family and the older women who comfort Lars during Bianca's "illness". Bianca is also characterized as one by Lars and is welcomed by the entire town as a result.
  • Nice Guy: Lars, despite his issues, is a very sweet and caring person. Gus as well given his love for his brother and patience for his issues. Gus' co-workers also show themselves to be this as they go along with Lars' delusion and get along well with him and Margo.
  • No Antagonist: The story has no villain or antagonist, revolving instead around Lars and his mental health.
  • 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.
  • Shrinking Violet: Lars is extremely shy and struggles with even the most minor social interactions, spending almost all his time alone. He starts to grow out of it as the film goes on.
  • Single-Issue Psychology: Averted. Lars's 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."