*** Spoiler Alert ***
Touching. Hugging. Cuddling. These intimate acts are what humans, as well as many other animals, use to express affection. Probably because they just warm us up, literally and emotionally. I am myself a fan of any kind of physical contact. I love touching people I like. I don’t mind hugging, or even kissing strangers. And I’m very interested in sex. I just love to see how individuals, as different bodies, can be so connected through the touch on their skin. That’s why Lars and the Real Girl, the movie about a man child who finds hugging and touching “hurts like burn”, cut a clear way right into my heart.
Lars and the Real Girl may not be in your Saturday night movie selections. It’s a low budget one (not any of those blockbusters you would die to see how so bad they suck that everyone is talking about them), and it deals with a problem that in no way you would think to be entertaining: delusional man loving a doll. That sounds sick in some level. That sounds pathetic and sad in another level. But believe me, none of those feelings would you encounter when seeing Lars and the Real Girl. It’s a bizarre movie, yes. But bizarreness is marvelously handled. It’s just purely beautiful.
Lars Lindstrom is a young sweet man who is beloved by everyone around him, despite his being awkward and a loner. A cute girl from work falls for him, pretty hard. But she can’t have his love, as Lars already gave it to Bianca.
And Bianca is a doll. A sex doll, by the very first reason she was made.
Lars, suffered from a scar deep in his heart, is delusional and thinks of Bianca as a real woman. He genuinely loves her. He takes great care of her and treats her with respect. He imagines her to be “very religious”, so he puts her in nice separate room, which means they would “save it” until their wedding night, if it ever happened. This makes the love story very believable and romantic: though Bianca was made practically to be a sex toy, Lars makes her his lover, and she becomes his lover. No sex involved, just love; just the look, the care, the tenderness, the understanding, all the things that somehow, at times, are forgotten.
What takes my biggest attention in the movie is Lars’s delusional condition. As revealed later in the movie, Lars grew up with the absence of his mother, who died from giving birth to him, and the presence of his dad, who completely fell apart after his wife’s death. Lars’s brother, Gus, left the house because he could not stand the tension, leaving his little brother with a father who couldn’t give him the normal love he needed. When the father died and Gus came back, Lars’s become an extreme introvert. He can’t find a way to connect with his family, or with anyone around him. He approaches them often to offer help, but he avoids them when they show any intention of getting closer. He tries hard to get away from his sister-in-law, who just cares so much and loves to hug people. She just doesn’t know that bothers him, that he has a big secret: he just can’t handle hugs. Lars is scared of hugging, touching or any kind of physical contact. It feels hurt like burn when someone touches him. He wears layers of clothes and doesn’t let anyone touch him for that matter.
At this point, the story gets really interesting to me. The way Lars describes hug hurts him “It’s like you go outside, it freezes. And you go back inside, it thaw out” shows how he feels about people: he has been living in cold love for too long, and when he starts to receive some sort of warm love, it freaks him out. He wants to be loved, but he’s not prepared for it. He knows how to love, but doesn’t know how to be loved.
How on Earth do I feel the same way?
While I love hugging people, I’m afraid of them hugging me. I would be so nervous, that I don’t know how to react. I’m used to being the one who stays in the dark zone, reaching out for love. I did not prepare myself that I would be loved back. It hurts, when you love people but don’t know how to do it. Isn’t it something so natural? Why does it have to be this hard?
I can’t say everything that I love about the movie, because it would take pages. I love when Lars gives Bianca a farewell kiss, then he cries on her shoulder. In his delusion, Bianca’s dying. In reality, Lars’s just making up his mind. He decides it’s time to get out of his shell, and to let Bianca go. Still the kiss hits me so hard in the feeling. It’s love, purely love. Even though Bianca is a doll, she strikes me as a human in that movie, especially in that kiss. I suppose growing up just hurts us as much as a farewell kiss with our beloved does.
I would never watch, or even know about this movie, if it weren’t for Ryan Gosling, I happened to catch The Notebook (which was OK but not my cup of tea) the other day on HBO, and I realized that not seeing any movie of this guy must be a mistake. Now I have been watching in a row six movies with him starring in, and I have to say none of them succeeded in boring me. They are all really good, if not mind-blowing, and Ryan proves clearly that he’s not just a pretty face or a hulky body. Though I am under his spells (who isn’t anyway?), I am quite sure I don’t judge his movies by his name on the cast list, as Ryan Gosling vanishes into characters. I just never see him there. Lars in Lars and the Real Girl is definitely a weird chubby guy who loves a doll; he’s no Ryan Gosling. Noah in The Notebook is a poor guy desperately in love; he’s no Ryan Gosling, too. This is to say, Ryan did an outstanding performance.
I read an interview of Ryan on this film and was amazed by the way he breaks down its concept, that Lars’s love for his doll proves that love is not necessarily a transaction, with giving and receiving; love can be just giving it out to someone we cares and never requiring it back. Isn’t that adorable? I have always thought that being in love, per se, is happiness. I love this movie for that, and I believe I am not the only one who feels connected to it. You’re gonna find Lars in the Real You, too.