A movie where everyone is nice that still works | The Velvet Café

larsProfessor Kirke was always one of my favorite characters in the Narnia chronicles. I loved when he lectured Peter and Susan as they came to him with their concerns about the sanity of their sister Lucy after listening to her ramblings about visits to another world inside the wardrobe:

“Logic! Why don’t they teach logic at these schools? There are only three possibilities. Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth. You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

In Lars and the Real Girl, there’s a psychiatrist who reminds me a bit of the professor when she full of confidence, without a moment of hesitation claims: “she’s real”.

She says this in reply to Gus, who has come to her, worried about the mental state of his brother Lars. Lars seems to always have been a bit of an odd guy, but now things have gone too weird for Gus to cope with. Lars has bought a real life sized doll, who he now claims to be his girl friend, and he expects everyone else to treat her as such.

After the initial reluctance Gus and his wife slowly start to accept the new family member. And since they’re living in the countryside, it’s not only a family business. The entire village gets involved.

A sweet movie
I’ll keep this review short and sweet. Because that’s what I think this movie is. A sweetie, in a good sense.

The stakes aren’t high. Actually they’re pretty much nonexistent. I suppose there is a risk that someone would send Lars to a mental institution, but it’s fairly obvious that his brother and sister-in-law while troubled by his pick of girl friend wouldn’t do such a thing.

All characters are pretty much agreeable persons who do their best to treat each other well. There isn’t even a proper conflict, just a few worries and you can suspect that things probably will sort out pretty well eventually

It’s a feelgood movie alright, but as opposed to other films with this label, it doesn’t feel vapid or sanitized. It’s something as unusual as a movie where everyone is nice which still works.

For me it raised some questions about the nature of mental illness. Is it so clear who has it and who hasn’t? What exactly is a sane person? And if someone doesn’t fit exactly into the standard behavior, isn’t it mostly a problem for the surrounding people?

Perhaps you could accuse Lars and the Real Girl for idealizing the life in small-town America, but after watching an endless stretch of movies taking place in depressing urban environments, where we see someone walking around feeling sorry for himself (for good reasons) and nothing every changes, Lars and the Real Girl feels fresh and almost revolutionary with its heartfelt message.

This was exactly what I needed. It’s a movie that makes me happy in the same way that Groundhog Day made me happy. It makes me believe in humanity.

As an extra bonus I got to watch Ryan Gosling once again. This was before his abs got photoshopped and he wears an utterly unattractive moustache, but this doesn’t take away from him that he’s a wonderful actor and perfect in this role.

Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie, US, 2007) My rating: 4,5/5

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