‘She is a lesson in courage’

typed for your pleasure on 8 November 2007, at 1.05 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Allures’ by Stereolab

So Tsukihime and I finally caught ‘Lars and the Real Girl‘ at a sparsely-attended matinee this Sunday past, and I have to admit that it was actually better than I thought it would be. As you’ll recall, I had some initial misgivings about the concept of a big-budget Hollywood film handling the concept of Dolls and iDollators in a sensitive manner, but all told, the end result was largely inoffensive.
As I didn’t have a notepad on me at the time (the theatre was too dark) and using my Treo would’ve been awkward (the screen was too bright), here’s my recollection from various fragments that I can remember:

+ Bianca arrived at Lars’ in only six weeks time. Potential Doll owners: be forewarned that this film is a work of fiction. Six week turnaround time?? Heh, if only…

+ Someone reviewing the film had waggishly described it as ‘Capra with creep factor’. Ignoring the C-word, I’d have to agree. Lars acquires his Synthetik girlfriend, and the whole town is persuaded to go along with it. As lovely as that idea is, it spins the whole film into the realm of pure fantasy. On the other hand, it’s hardly as if I expected it to be a documentary… Even if it is fictional, it’s a nice change to see people rallying behind an iDollator, as opposed to crossing the street to avoid him.

+ In certain scenes, it was noticeable that Bianca wasn’t an ordinary Doll weight — there’s a part where Lars is walking through some woods with her piggyback, and I’m sorry, that shit’s nigh-impossible to do with a typical Doll. Movie Magic!

+ A couple of things that made me chuckle: Lars’ cubicle mate, a weedy fellow who reminded me visually of Gareth from ‘The Office‘, showed Lars the site that sold the Dolls. The layout was like Abyss’, yet not Abyss’.
Shortly after, Lars asked his coworker if he would be placing an order for one. ‘I would,’ he sighed, ‘but I just got the new XBOX.’ Tch! Where are your priorities, sir??

+ As a Doll husband and advocate, I have to say that this film had a severe lack of naked Bianca. Seriously though, it’s good that there wasn’t any focus on the sexual aspects of Bianca and Lars’ relationship, as the film could’ve very easily slipped into a lowbrow American Pie-type sex farce, with Bianca as a prop — I’m rather glad that scriptwriter Nancy Oliver chose not to go that route. The way she drew up the character of Lars is that he saw Bianca as a companion first and a sexual partner second, and to be honest, their sexual relationship wasn’t even mentioned. Which is again good, as it reinforces the concept that Dolls aren’t merely for sex.

+ Continuing in that particular groove, the film’s central point is that having a Doll in one’s life (depending on the type of person you are, of course), can be very theraputic. Before Lars learns about Dolls, you see him in the opening scenes of the film: he’s isolated in a cold grey room that contains little stimulus or joy, and a crushing sense of depression. After Bianca arrives, his life doesn’t exactly do a 180, but he’s noticeably less maudlin. He takes her places, sees things with her… he has someone to enjoy life with. Not to get all Hallmark-y, but Bianca is a key that unlocks the doors to Lars’ life.
Gods, that sounded rubbish. Strike that, reverse it. But you know what I mean.

+ I’m sorry; even though Ms Oliver undoubtedly drew from many sources during her research for her script, I would have to say that a large part of Lars is based on me, and another part is based on Everhard. Half-Danish, half-Brazilian Bianca has a detailed history, much like half-English half-Japanese Sidore does, and despite his mother’s passing, Lars still has a tremendous affection and attachment to her, much as Everhard does. Yeah yeah, I know, I bet you think this song is about you. Don’t you?

+ And I have to say that the scene with Lars dancing with Bianca in his room, brief as it was, was incredibly touching. When fellow iDollator Mahtek first told me that, thanks to the hanging suspension stand he bought for his girls, he can actually dance with Phoebe or Penelope, I knew that he was a luckier man than I.

So in summation, ‘Lars etc etc’ turned out to be much less of a grand disappointment than I thought it would be. The ending was almost what I’d expected — Hollowood’s everywhere, you can’t get away from it — but as a Doll husband, my sensibilities were not offended. Even Tsukihime, whose only exposure to Synthetiks is through me, enjoyed it as well — she admitted there were a couple of scenes where she was tearing up, but then, she’s a softer touch when it comes to that sort of thing…
The only negative point I have to say about it, really, is that since Lars was kinda messed up before Bianca entered his life — his extreme shyness and near-clinical fear of being touched comes from his mother having died while giving birth to him — the casual viewer might say ‘well, he’s got a Doll, so he must be a loony’, when the only thing Bianca has to do with his mental condition is improving it. My worry is that most people, unless they watch the film with an open and attentive mind, won’t make that distinction. But like I’ve said, at least it’s not ‘Love object’.
Ms Oliver, you are henceforth spared my wrath (pronounced ‘roth’). So when’s the DVD due out?

And that concludes ‘Shouting etc etc’s coverage of ‘Lars etc etc’! In all honesty, even I was starting to grow tired of making mention of it in every other feckin’ post

Did her mum knit her that hat and scarf combo?

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

snap snap, click click on October 23rd, 2006

Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Jun 2006) on June 6th, 2006

12 have spoken to “‘She is a lesson in courage’”

  1. Mahtek writes:

    Great review, Davecat!

    It is nice that she decided to show how dolls can bring out the best in people.

    So how does it feel to find that Hollywood finds your life exceptional enough to invest a few mill’?

    I wonder how much time she spent on the Forum investigating Idollators? I’m curious, when Lars was dancing with his doll, were they playing Johnny Rivers’ “Slow Dancing”, my old signature?

  2. PBShelley writes:

    Hm, my first post was swallowed by the Intranets! :-O

    Allow me to try again: Thanks for the great review, DC; it’s good to read one written by one of our own 🙂

    I actually thought the song was about a bunch of us, but will trust your observational skills 😉

    I’ll await the DVD and watch it with my interested companions who, by the way, send well-wishes all around 🙂

    (And Mahtek, I do hope that your girl survived her op okay; I haven’t the heart to read your surgery thread. Fingers crossed!)

    PBS & the roomies 🙂

  3. Miss Hyde writes:

    i wanna see it 🙁 DAMN MY BRITISH-NESS! but what did i say? Its a film about you without your permition! Hyde x

  4. Figure8 writes:

    Nice review, Davecat. I especially like this comment: “I have to say that this film had a severe lack of naked Bianca. ” hehe

  5. SafeTinspector writes:

    The indieland conceit that the whole town would stand behind Lars seems at once weird and typical of this sort of film.

    Still, glad to hear the movie isn’t as bad as it might’ve been, scenes of lengthy clothedness not-withstanding.

  6. Dr. Goldfoot writes:

    Well said, Davecat,

    As I’ve mentioned at TDF, the reason the Lars movie works is because people sympathize with Lars’ delusion problem. Had he been totally upfront about Bianca being a doll, and perfectly OK with his choice not to hook up with a human, the community would have reacted quite differently. And I doubt Lars would’ve been so eager to take Bianca out to meet everybody.

    And even so, the movie is a step forward. Not a radical step, obviously, but forward’s better than backward, eh?

    Mucho bliss,
    Dr. G.

  7. Miss Hyde writes:

    On re-reading this post I have a few questions; how much does a real-doll weigh anyway? I weigh 99 lbs and people give me piggy-backs. How does this film end! I’m dieing to know seeing as its not coming to a cinima near me soon! Hyde x

  8. PBShelley writes:

    Miss Hyde, my original Lily-doll was a Body 7 which weighed around 95 pounds. Her newer Body 6 seems to be slightly heavier, but that may be due to her stiffness ( I haven’t flexed her too much). Abyss currently has lightened their newest bodies by 10 pounds, I think.

    Being an older model I think that Sidore-chan might be even heavier though it would be ungallant of me to say so aloud 😉 You have to be pretty strong to carry them around.

    One must keep in mind though that this is all dead weight! It makes a big difference carrying a girl who will even if sleeping accomodate your grasp as you carry her. But dead weight does nothing. I suppose that’s appropriate 😛

    An example I can think of is when for Elena and Elizabeth’s shoot we picked out a lovely church, and had the deaconess’s permission to shoot (it’s in a scene from her novel). However, the head priest later discovered us and was, let’s say, not at all pleased! While I patiently tried to explain the concept of why a “mannequin” (as he put it) was “praying” in his church, E & E decided that a retreat would be a better idea before he called the police! So while they bundled up their equipment, I pried Lily from her pew and RAN aaallll the way down the aisle, aalll the way down three flights of those flat church-type steps with her, and managed to get her into the truck :-O I’ll spare the sweaty details, but you can imagine!

    Passersby were amused AND bemused, not the least an elderly couple walking up the steps, seeing an apparently-collapsed girl being carried from the church by a guy running away with her!

    Fun times 😀

    PBS, Lily, and Eden

  9. Miss Hyde writes:

    Oh that makes sence now! I never really thought about their weight. And they can’t really go on diets…! But oh my gosh lucky you getting away from that manic preist. They have allwaysed scared me they seem to be comdeming me to hell with their eyes… hyde x

  10. PBShelley writes:

    If I recall correctly, Davecat had some interesting “carrying-the-doll” stories as well, I think regarding a graveyard, or churchyard with graves (?) during a photoshoot or documentary he was in. They aren’t exactly “totable” unless a weightlifter 😉

    The “bride-over-the-threshold” method works best for me; a straight-up grasp under the armpits is quite difficult to pull off.

    You seem to have gotten the priest’s “look” right LOL! And as a former altar boy, I didn’t exactly feel as if we were despoiling anything! All’s well that ended well, anyway 😀

    BTW, if anyone’s interested, I put three of Elena’s pics up on my website; access is through the Portal link there 😉 (There’s also an excerpt from Lily’s story there as well; we hope DC doesn’t mind the plug!)

    Cheers 🙂

  11. Keith writes:

    Quote from the film, concerning receiving flowers: “Those are nice, huh? And they’re not real, so they’ll last forever.”
    In other words, because they are fake life, they can NEVER die, a great benefit.

    This was an interesting film at first, then it became the standard conformity rubbish. No matter what the creators intended I saw a story of an artificial person who was apparently loved, and even amazingly accepted into society as a useful member, and a friend to all.
    Then a supposedly better woman came along, and helpless Bianca was lied about, cast aside and buried alive. And the whole community was lying; nobody ever REALLY cared about her. 🙁

  12. Davecat writes:

    There’s a comic-cum-philosopher from the west coast by the name of Ashleigh Brilliant, and he’s been doing the one-panel strip Pot-Shots since the Sixties. They’re all aphorisms, for the most part, but the one I still have, and want enlarged and framed, would be the one that reads ‘The difference between real and unreal things is that unreal things usually last much longer.’ To some, that’s a simple, if cynical, observation. To me, that’s a way to live.

    HOLLYWOOD ENDINGS: they’re rubbish. I still think Bianca served a positive purpose in Lars’ life, but there’s no earthly reasons why he couldn’t have lived happily every after with her, as opposed to the rather bland Organik lass he was implied to have chosen at the end. Or even having Lars pair up with her, but still keeping Bianca in his life.
    Don’t worry: a Hollywood ending ruined ‘Cherry 2000’ for me as well.

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