Lars and Real Love


Last night, we watched a movie made in 2007 called Lars and the Real Girl. It starred Ryan Gosling and other actors I recognized on sight but not by name.

Without giving too much away, the story centers around Lars, an exceptionally shy, single man in his late 20s, and his brother Gus with his expecting wife, Karen. Lars has no friends. He interacts with other people very reluctantly. To compound things, he wears the baby blanket his mom knitted him around his neck like a scarf.

Before you start to pity Lars, the situation gets more strange. Karen, concerned about Lars’ lack of social interaction, invites him to meals at their house. I should mention here the house belonged to Lars until his big brother and wife moved back to town. Then Lars voluntarily moved into the garage. Karen persists, even tackling Lars in his snowy driveway upon his return from work one night.

Lars sees his cube mate ordering what looks like a life-size doll on the internet. Yes, it’s anatomically correct, but that’s hardly the point. Bianca shows up at Lars’ house 6 weeks later. Lars introduces Bianca as “a visitor”. She’s got a whole backstory of missionary work and nursing training. She’s in a wheelchair, though, now, and a bit self-conscious about it. Oh, and she’s half Brazilian and half Danish.

Gus and Karen are gobsmacked. They wanted Lars to meet someone, even through the internet was okay. “Everyone does that now,” Karen states at one point. But this inanimate piece of plastic gets all his affection? They don’t know what to do.

They got to their family doctor, saying since Bianca lived in the tropics, she probably needs some assessment now that she lives in an inhospitable place in very northern U.S. Dr. Dagmar gives Bianca “treatments”, taking her blood pressure with a cuff and everything. She pronounces Bianca suffers from low blood pressure and needs weekly care.

Her interview with Gus and Karen proves very telling. Gus, frustrated and angry, puts questions to the good doctor.

“What’s going on with Lars?” he asks.

“Lars is suffering from a delusion,” she says.

“Well, when is he going to stop?” he asks, complete with eye roll and expletive.

“When he doesn’t need it anymore,” she says.

Gus and Karen set up a meeting with the town’s most influential folks, as well as Lars’ pastor. They plead for understanding and for them to “play along”. All these model citizens, one by one, say no. Until one of the older women speaks up about the freaky people in *their* families, namely a cat-dressing son and a nephew who gave all his money to the UFO foundation. But the minister nails it.

“Well,” he says, looking everyone in the eye, “the real question is what would Jesus do?”

And that, dear readers, changed the whole story. Lars and Bianca go on to have a romantic but non-physical relationship. Bianca volunteers at the hospital. She reads to kids at a preschool. She “models” three times a week at a local boutique. She even gets elected to the school board. Their journey together looks not unlike most regular, two-person trajectory stories.

I won’t give away any more, but Lars has serious things to process. Everyone knows him in this town. He grew up there. The neighbors balk at first, yet learn to go along and make believe with Lars and Bianca. This allows Lars to learn what he needs to and let Bianca go. In the end, the love surrounding Lars allowed him to heal and find a live girl. Real love makes all the difference.

This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. – 1 John 4:10