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Lars and the Real Girl

Lars (Ryan Gosling) and his girlfriend (Bianca, a sex doll) are at a party. Someone puts on a record. Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place” begins to play. A friend moves Bianca’s wheelchair to simulating dancing while Lars dances in the space next to her, pantomiming as if she is in his arms, eyes closed, smiling. To him, she is real. Rather than dismissing his fantasy, the members of his small town embrace Bianca, treating her as Lars treats her, as a person.

My first time watching Lars and the Real Girl was at a friend’s house in high school. She put the disc in the DVD player without letting me see the title, without telling me anything about the film. Lars has since been one of my go-to films. I own a DVD copy, which I found at a thrift store behind my house in my own small town (Glenwood, IA) for $2. This film is so very special – it is an unusual romantic comedy and a textured depiction of mental illness, with a quiet performance from Gosling and an even quieter performance from his sex doll sweetheart.

 

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