I am stepping outside the boundaries of the normal sci-fi/fantasy/comic realm for a moment here. And I know, I know! Why so soon into my specific fandom blogging would I do this? Because above all else, I want this blog to be about things I am passionate about; things that inspire me or give me hope. And I want to share that same feeling with you. So I am going to talk about a film that really changed my life. (A lot of creations have “changed my life”. This simply means they’ve altered my perspective and changed the way I view life in general). Prepare for these posts to get personal from time to time. You will learn a lot about me as I write about things that I love because they have affected me on a personal level.
So, Ryan Gosling is dreamy, right? At least he was becoming a sex symbol in a way. You can even buy a Ryan Gosling journal where, periodically, a drawing of his face pops up with a speech bubble so he can give you gentlemanly affirmations as you write about how crappy your day was.
At the height of this appeal, Ryan Gosling, the brilliant actor he is, does this amazing piece of work:
This movie is a total game changer. If you are someone suffers from anxiety, depression, anxious/depression, OR if you are somebody who loves somebody who suffers from those things, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE watch this movie. Very quickly, you learn about Lars. His anxiety is far gone, never leaving his garage apartment that he secluded himself to when his father passed away. His older brother Gus and his wife, Karin, move into the childhood home and struggle with trying to get Lars to communicate and socialize. For the most part, Gus avoids the problem; mainly to avoid feelings of guilt for abandoning his younger brother in the midst of the most trying time of his life.
Eventually, Lars creates a delusion for himself. Karin invites him to dinner, fully believing that Lars will avoid yet another opportunity for social interaction. Instead, she is pleasantly surprised and elated when Lars shows up saying he will be coming to dinner and he’ll actually have a date!!! Of course, when he shows up, it’s just a sex doll in a wheelchair. And her name is Bianca!
So how can this movie about a garage dweller toting around a sex doll (albeit an advanced and expensive one) inspire me so much, to the point of tears, even?! Because this whole movie is a journey about healing and acceptance. It’s the most moving picture I’ve ever seen, but maybe that’s because I am someone who has definitely needed healing and acceptance.
Gus and Karin make an appointment with a doctor named Dagmar, played stupendously by Patricia Clarkson. Lars thinks the appointment is for Bianca, however, because they are “concerned for her health.” Dagmar quickly asserts to all involved that they play along with Lars’ delusion until he reaches a mental place where he no longer needs her as a social crutch. The delusion will fade as Lars becomes whole again.
The whole movie is awkward. You’ll feel uncomfortable when he brings Bianca to a party with coworkers.
When he brings her to church.
When he’s singing to her in the woods.
But what you’ll really feel, is the love and support the whole small town ends up sharing with Lars. You can tell how uncomfortable they are when they have to greet and talk to Bianca for the first time; but because they do, Lars goes to his first party in years and he DANCES. Because they do, he is able to interact with people on a level he was once incapable of. Because they love Lars, Bianca eventually becomes her own beloved citizen of the town, making appearances all over, including reading books to children during story time. Because they accept Lars for who he is and all the oddities that come with him, Lars begins to heal and change and develop REAL relationships with people, not just one-sided conversations with an anatomically correct inanimate object.
Eventually, as time passes and Lars begins to make more intimate connections (particularly with a real human woman named Margo, who is delightful), he finds a way to release his need for Bianca. One day, Lars finds her “unconscious” and she won’t wake up. They even bring her to the hospital and put her on bedrest at home until eventually she “dies”. When she passes, the whole town goes to her funeral services where the priest eulogizes, “We’re here to celebrate Bianca’s extraordinary life. From her wheelchair Bianca reached out and touched us all in ways we couldn’t imagine. She was a teacher. She was a lesson in courage. And Bianca loved us all. Especially Lars. Especially.”
Cue the ugly crying. Sometimes we all just need to be loved like Lars. And we all need to learn to extend love in equal measure.