I've come across a lot of things lately I would, and have described as bittersweet. Just in the last two days, I used 'bittersweet' to describe three things, which is unusual. One of the things I found bittersweet is so trivial, I won't even mention it. The other is two of Oscar Wilde's Fairy Tales, and another is the movie Lars and the Real Girl.
Since I still have to finish reading all of Wilde's Fairy Tales, I can't really give a complete and solid opinion just yet, so I will go on to Lars and the Real Girl.
At first glance, Lars and the Real Girl is an odd story about Lars, a presumably awkward young man with such severe dating issues, he falls in love with a life-size doll? At least that was my first impression. I assumed that it was going to be a quirky, maybe even dark comedy. I even expected it to be silly and devoid of any truth or heart. My curiosity made me watch Lars and the Real Girl, and find that it was not to be taken lightly.
The movie opens with shots of a harsh winter setting in what I immediately knew was somewhere in Minnesota. Lars, played brilliantly by Ryan Gosling, watches the world from the window of his older brother's converted garage, where he lives. I immediately noticed that despite his awkwardness, Lars is not the town weirdo. Everyone likes Lars, thinks he's a great and good looking guy. He even has an admirer actively pursuing him. Wait a minute, I thought. This isn't what I was expecting.
Not much time and story passes until the viewer is aware that Lars is a lot more complex than a loser who falls in love with a doll. Lars turned into one of the most interesting characters I'd come across in a long time. His conflict is internal, having nothing to do with the reality that surrounds him of people caring about him and wanting to reach out to him in all kinds of ways, but to no avail. Lars' problem is deeper and calls for a movie of substance and heart, which is just what this movie delivered.
Lars put a smile on my face and tears in my eyes with his struggle to connect with those around him through Bianca, the anatomically correct, life-size doll he orders online. Unlike a weirdo, Lars doesn't hide Bianca and only bring her out when noone is around. He instead introduces her to the community and through her, connects with those around him. This movie has its funny moments, and one certainly laughs at moments where sadness is due, but the heart of the movie is present throughout. Bittersweet is the perfect description.
Lars and the Real Girl isn't a silly movie. Nor is it a dark comedy. It is the story of a young man who knew exactly what he needed, but couldn't attain it on his own. You could argue that Bianca helped him get it, but I say Bianca gave Lars' family and friends the opportunity to give him what he needed. A connection.