Lars and the Real Girl
As the movie begins, we meet Lars, a tender, decent man, with some obvious personality disorder. He has established a relational life, living in his deceased parents’ garage apartment and avoiding contact with everyone except through careful rituals at work and church. He is very introverted, having a great fear of interacting or allowing anyone to get close to him. He performs his day to day tasks as rituals to make it through the work day and get back to his apartment where he can be alone.
His anxiety level heightens when put into situations where interactions with others is necessary, causing him to avoid eye contact, start sweating, rub his face and blink his eyes a lot. As the movie goes on we learn that Lars is somewhat of a loner, avoiding persistent attempts by his sister-in-law to invite him to dinner. Not giving too much detail, the movie tells us that Lars’s mother dies during giving birth to him, his older brother runs away and abandons him to deal with this loss alone with his father who is overwhelmed with grief and unable to give Lars the love and affection a young child needs through his life.
He grows up feeling so hurt by the people closest to him, that he will not allow anyone else to get close enough to hurt him even deeper. The avoidant lifestyle he has lived for so long has served whatever purpose it had, and Lars’s innate need to relationally connect with others is beginning to assert itself in his life. Lars has now ordered a real-live looking doll from the internet, and introduces her to his family and community as his girlfriend, Bianca. Lars gives her a past and creates her as a paraplegic, perhaps a portrayal of his own emotional injury. Lars feels safe with Bianca because she cannot injure him.
So he uses her as a safety crutch to begin to connect with others in the real world. This relationship with Bianca makes it easier for him to comfortably be around others. Unknowingly, Lars is using a process of innate self-healing. At first, the family and community is very thrown off by the sight of Lars treating a doll like a real person. However, the family doctor/psychologist, Dagmar, tells the family that he has created this woman to solve some relational problems and if they go along with it, he will get through this and be fine. After much soul-searching, the community agrees to accept Bianca as a real woman.
Despite his feeling of being a complete outsider, Lars does have a great family and community that loves him and is willing to help him. Instead of judging him by his crazy doll girlfriend idea, they accept his way of thinking and act as if she is a real person, only to help him work through his own life problems. Everyone in the movie shows compassion and love towards Lars. Lars has no idea that he has an entire community that is supporting his construction of reality. Because everyone around him recognizes Bianca as a real woman, Lars is able to begin to deal with his issues.
The biggest turning point of change for Lars is when he goes to the bowling alley without Bianca. His ability to enjoy the evening with friends was a great breaking point in his healing process. As he becomes more and more able to relate and communicate with others, he needs Bianca less and less. Lars finally allows, in his mind, Bianca to get very sick and die. He realizes that even without her, he has an entire community of people that will stand by him and love him.