Sunday, February 10, 2013

Lars and the Real Girl

My sister has been urging me to watch this award winning 2007 film, and finally sent it to me as her Christmas gift. Yesterday afternoon, I settled down to watch it. The basic plot: Lars, a 27 year old loner, decompensates into what the family doctor terms "delusional disorder," by buying a mail order anatomically correct female doll, which he introduces to his shocked brother and sister-in-law with whom he lives. Karin, the sister-in-law "gets it" quite quickly, meaning she figures it's better to enter into Lars delusion as a way of communicating with him. She suggests that "Bianca" probably needs a physical check-up after her long journey. The doctor convinces Lars that Bianca needs a weekly visit and that Lars should come along with her to keep her company.

Lars' brother Gus is quite hostile to the idea of buying into Lars' delusion while his wife is more supportive of the idea. This, of course, causes tension between the two of them. The screenwriter, Nancy Oliver, has cleverly intuited that how well or poorly a bizarre behavior by a family member is handled by the family (and the community), makes a huge difference to healing. She also strongly implies that the behavior is the attempt at healing. This film would be an excellent teaching aid in mental health recovery programs.

Doctor: What we call mental illness,
isn't always just an illness ...
It can be a communication,
it can be a way of work something out.
Gus: Fantastic. When will be over?
Doctor: When he doesn't need it anymore
Karin: How can we help?
Doctor: Go along with it
Gus: -- Oh no.  No that's...
No no...
No I mean...
pretend that she is real?    I'm not gonna do that,
I mean I can't.   I'm just not gonna do it
Doctor: She is real.
Gus: -Well...
Doctor: She's right out there
Gus: -- Right, I get that
I'm just not gonna...  You know, I'm just not gonna
I'm not gonna do it, so...
Doctor: You won't be able to change his mind anyway

Bianca's in town for a reason.
Gus: -- Right, but... but ...

Doctor: It's not really a choice.
Gus: Then we'll do it, whatever it takes.

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