This is a very heart-warming story about Lars, a young man who is virtually unable to interact socially with other people until he buys a large sex doll online. But the sexual implications of this don’t even seem to be on Lars’ radar. He innocently brings his new girlfriend, “Bianca,” to church with him. He talks to her and he hears her speaking to him. He tells others that Bianca used to be a missionary. He brings her to parties. He finds accommodations for her since “it just wouldn’t be right for them to sleep under the same roof.”
The introduction of Bianca into the film was a little awkward, but that actually worked to bring me into the community’s predicament of how to respond to Lars.
At first, those around Lars desperately try to figure out what the heck to do with him, and with Bianca, the newest member of the community. The Midwest setting is perfect for this story. This movie would have been completely different if it were set in L.A.. This film leans very heavily on its setting, and only works, for me, because of its setting.
Toward the beginning of Bianca’s introduction to the community, one of the characters asks outright, in a most fascinating way that seems like merely a joke at first: “What would Jesus do?” We roll our eyes and move on, but the film does go on to work out varying answers to this question. How does this Midwest community accomodate…no…reach out to…no…work to love and integrate one of its beloved, wounded members? What does love look like in this community? Sometimes it looks bizarre; sometimes it looks pathological. This story doesn’t shy away from tough questions.
In a time of tragedy for the main character, several older women in the community come with casseroles in hand to Lars’ home and remain in the house in quiet support. In desperation, Lars asks the women: “Is there something I should be doing right now?” and they answer in succession:
“No dear, you eat.”
“We came over to sit.”
“That is what people do when tragedy strikes.”
“They come over and sit.”
This film (mostly) walks careful lines between innocence and irony; tenderness and libido; love and placation. It has a big heart. It is also blatantly Fruedian, but it still works, since it allows you to care deeply for its characters rather than forcing you to analyze them at a remove.