Thursday, January 28, 2010
Lars and the Real Girl
It does require some effort and time to discover these “little” films that often get overlooked. But it’s worth the journey. All that is necessary is a little discernment and a taste for the unusualness and quirkiness of life, which we all possess.
I’ve seen Lars and the Real Girl several times, and with each viewing I discover something new, which is usually a sign of a great film. This is a beautifully made film. Filmmaking can be a difficult process, but when everything comes together, you have magic. In the case of Lars and the Real Girl, we have a director with a clear vision, a writer who has written a powerful screenplay, and the right actors who have been appropriately casted for difficult parts. Plus, the cinematography is first class.
The film is a reflection of I John 3:18, which says, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” The town folks of Lars and the Real Girl are challenged to put their faith and love in action. In other words, it’s a practical application of what they believe. What we have here is another example of a “Christian” film that’s not a Christian film. If you are interested in making movies from a faith-based perspective, I highly recommend that you take a look at this film from several different angles to break down each element and discover why it works.
Here’s a quick synopsis. Lars Lindstrom (Ryan Gosling) is a lonely, shy and socially inept young man living in the converted garage behind the house of his brother and sister-in-law. Lars develops a relationship with a life-like doll that is anatomically correct, which he orders on-line from an adult website. I know it sounds creepy, but this is a case where the content makes complete sense in terms of the context of the film. So don’t freak out. Lars has detached from reality and is convinced that Bianca (the life-sized doll) is a real person. In fact, she is a wheelchair-bound missionary from Brazil.
Lars’ brother, Gus, and sister-in-law, Karin, convince Lars to take Bianca to see the family doctor, who is also a psychologist. Her diagnosis is that this is a delusion of Lars own creation and urges Gus and Karen to treat Bianca as if she is a real person.
So how do Gus and Karin handle the situation? How will the church they regularly attend react? What about the townsfolk’s? Will they go along? Can anybody help Lars?
For some, this plot may seem preposterous and implausible. But somewhere along the way, the filmmakers find the divine that exists in each of us through God’s grace and love. It’s a clear question of how far we are willing to go in reaching out to people in need even those different from us. Can we get out of our comfort zone? We, as Christians, love the idea of Christianity and often practice our faith as theory. But, at times, we have difficulty in putting it into action. Without action or deed, our faith really doesn’t mean anything.
Like Lars, on some level, we have all disconnected perhaps from God and each other. How can we find our way back? What was Lars turning point? Is there something from Lars and the Real Girl that I can apply to my personal life? Let’s start a discussion. I want to hear what you think.