How a sex doll will teach you about love

Looking for a movie to rent this weekend, consider renting the DVD – Lars and the Real Girl.

Lars Lindstrom is a 27 year old, shy loner who avoids contact with people as much as possible. His issues seem to stem from the fact that his mother died while giving birth to him and he was raised by his depressed father. Lars now lives in the garage apartment behind his childhood home which is occupied by his older brother, Gus (Paul Schneider), and his pregnant wife, Karin (Emily Mortimer). The only social activity that Lars engages in is regularly attending the town’s Lutheran church.

One day at the small office where he works a co-worker shows him an Internet ad for a life-size girl “sex doll” that is “anatomically correct”. Lars purchases one and introduces her to his brother and sister-in-law as Bianca, a half-Danish, half Brazilian missionary who is “on sabbatical to experience the world.” She must be pushed around in a wheelchair and Lars claims to have met Bianca, his new girlfriend, on the Internet.

In fact sex is not what Lars has in mind, but rather deep, meaningful relationships with others. Lars and the Real Girl is a charming look at a young man who is learning how to join life.  It is a movie about communicating and connecting, with the doll merely serving as the necessary conduit.  Actually Christianity Today rated it as one of their most redeeming films of 2007

Most of the movie deals with Lars’ family, his church and the community learning how to respond and accept him and Bianca. Obviously, at first, Gus and Karin are very concerned about Lars’ behavior. Karin suggests that they seek counsel from Dr. Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson), a family doctor. Soon, Lars is taking Bianca to the doctor once a week, which gives Dr. Dagmar a chance to talk to him and also to work on his fear of being touched and connecting with others. She tells Gus and Karin that Lars has a delusion and the best thing for them to do is to simply go along with it.

Not only do Gus and Karin go along with Lars’ delusion but so do other’s in their small town.  The church council and the pastor meet to decide what to do if Lars brings Bianca to a Sunday service. Mrs. Gruner (Nancy Beatty) convinces them that everyone has problems and that they should offer moral support to Lars in the name of love. The pastor concludes the meeting by saying that the only question they need to consider is “What would Jesus do?” Consequently, when Lars brings Bianca to church, the congregation accommodates her and even welcomes her with a gift of flowers.

This tolerance of Bianca starts with the Christians at Lars’ church but rapidly spreads throughout the whole community. Bianca gets her hair styled at the local beauty shop.  Bianca is asked to volunteer at the hospital, and is even elected to the local school board. And through this journey with Bianca, Lars begin to see for the first time in his life, that he could have a normal life like other people – REAL people. Toward the end of the movie he begins to respond to all the special attention he has been receiving from Margo (Kelli Garner), a co-worker who has taken quite a liking to him.

I think that Lars and the Real Girl is a powerful look at the body of Christ in action.  It is a movie about the power of love and support from a community, particularly a church community, around a person who is broken and in need of healing.  His fellow churchgoers choose to love him unconditionally by playing along and embracing him in spite of his unusual behavior and soon after the whole town follows their lead.

Lars is certainly different.  He is a man with a lot of pain. He has big needs.  Too often the church doesn’t have the patience, desire or is ill-equipped to do what it takes to help those who are very needy or are considered “high maintenance”.  Unlike many movies that portray the church as judgmental, what is so cool is that this movie portrays the church as a matrix of love, hospitality and care.

Lars and the Real Girl presents this small church in a small Northern town as the catalyst for an amazing outpouring of love and care by its entire community for a hurting and troubled person who needs their help.

Would and could the REAL body of Christ be able to show such a similar outpouring of love to a person like Lars? In REAL life could the church actually patiently deal with and accept someone like Lars?  The cynic in me says, not likely – but it SHOULD!  Who else but the church should accept and reach out to the least and the last.  Where else should the broken and wounded go for healing?  Christ’s church of course!

With the power of the gospel, we should be able to help heal and restore people from lives of brokenness and pain.  Thankfully this is a movie that portrays the church able to step up and love a broken person.

Now we should have every expectation of real “life” being able to imitate “art”.

Bill Reichart is a pastor at Big Creek Church in Forsyth County, GA. He blogs at his personal blog, Provocative Church and his ministry blog, Ministry Best Practices.

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7 thoughts on “How a sex doll will teach you about love

  1. Why not just tell people not to watch these film and instead do something more constructive with your time such as spend time with God in His Word and prayer, spend time with your wife/husband and children, read a good book, etc. but why waste your time and life watching meaningless films such as this one?

  2. Nice.
    Well the film isn’t that meaningless. I bet you are tweaked because of the provocative headline. But I hope you read the entire review. Films are the stories and narratives of our culture – so they are not meaningless. And yes I watch movies, read books, spend time with God in His Word and prayer, spend ooodles of time with my wonderful bride and children…I would say I have a full and well rounded life.

    Be blessed.

  3. The Seeking Disciple…humm…interesting name.
    Bill–Thanks for the post. I might not otherwise have seen this film but I think I will now.

  4. just saw Lars and the Real Girl, Gosling did a great job playing out his character’s psychological transition from totally dysfunctional to somewhat functional; i was relieved that they left out the predictable small-town drama as well

  5. “Why not just tell people not to watch these film and instead do something more constructive with your time such as…spend time with your wife/husband”

    Okay, please give us all spouses of reasonable sexual reliability that aren’t fat so we have the opportunity to do this

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