Saturday, December 1, 2007
Movie Review: Lars and the Real Girl
The movie “Lars and the Real Girl” was just released. Basically, a delusional 30 something year old named Lars orders himself a mannequin (sex doll) named Bianca, but doesn’t use her sexually. His attraction for her is everything but physical – the closest he gets to touching her involves pushing her wheelchair or lifting her in and out of a bed (which he doesn’t even share with her). A doctor suggests to his concerned brother that he just play along with the fantasy, something that the entire town ends up doing. Church members embrace her, women at the salon are happy to do her hair and give makeovers – she ends up being so popular that Lars hardly gets to spend any time with her.
In the end, Lars is cured. He is able to detach himself from Bianca, (he imagines that she falls very ill and dies), and moves onto the perky blonde girl that's been eyeing him at the office. While the screenplay and scenery of the movie are nothing extraordinary, I rather appreciated that the movie forced the audience to entertain the idea that a mannequin could be treated as a human. Bianca was a companion to Lars; her "company" helped him gather the courage to build real human relationships, and helped his community (who became rather smitten with her), better understand his eccentricities.
I have an inkling that this movie may be inspired by the true story of Lester Gaba, a mannequin maker in the 1930's that fell in love with his creation, "Cynthia." Cynthia was made of wood and posed in a sitting position, elbow on her knees and a cigarette in her hand. She accompanied Gaba everywhere; to social clubs, on carriage rides, and to his seat at the opera. Gaba required a team of 3 men to help transport her around (wooden mannequins are much heavier than the fiberglass ones used today), but despite these difficulties, Cynthia was beloved by many. Designers sent her dresses, Cartier and Tiffany's event lent her jewels. Unfortunately, Cynthia met her untimely death at a salon when she slipped out of a chair and shattered into a thousand pieces.
Whether Gaba's story was the inspiration for "Lars and the Real Girl" or not, it is somewhat intriguing that the possibility of mannequins coming to life has been a recurring theme in our culture.