Roger Ebert’s review pretty much nails the goodness of this movie, which Anita and I caught last Friday. Lots of other reviewers really missed the boat–which doesn’t surprise me. This film is deeply moral and backs it up with a flawless cast. By the end of the film, I felt very satisfied. I think my wife found it to be on the edge of very weird. Which it probably is.
The film was somewhat predictable, assuming Lars could navigate the minefield of his life and interactions. As soon as his new “girlfriend” shows up via packing crate from the internet, he practically invites himself to dinner at the house. This, after his sister-in-law virtually throws herself in front of his car to nab him for some family time. The journey back to the world has already begun for Lars.
What I found a little less realistic than the plastic friend was how the community rallies around Lars and helps to coax out the person inside the pathologically shy man. Would a small town really do that? It was great that they did–and the actors do a convincing job of it, adding just the right touch of crudity, like the guy who wonders if Bianca has a sister.
The “real” girl waits for Lars. One of the most touching scenes is when Lars does CPR on her teddy bear who was “executed” by another office worker in retaliation for her kidnapping of his superhero action figures.
Well … you just have to see the movie for that to make sense.
Another scene that resonated for me is when Lars asks his brother how he knew he became a man. Gus says it’s more about sex, and then goes through a list that exemplifies a sound and moral approach to maturity: sacrifice, love, faithfulness, and being able to offer an apology.
I know that the bishops and bloggers are hounding us to go see Bella, and I suspect I will. But this movie is probably in the same neighborhood and it’s worth a visit.