We love what we live through

Adam Griffiths

The story of a man purchasing and falling in love with an anatomically correct doll might not sit well with some people.

But while Lars and the Real Girl is wildly humorous and, at points, tear-jerking, the film speaks volumes more about our interest in seemingly real-life stories about fictional characters.

Halfway through a screening of Lars last week, I realized what I was watching wasn’t a movie so much as a snapshot of a man’s life. Sure, director Craig Gillespie did his job, and I got it. But it triggered a mental timeline of movies over the past few years, during which I felt more like I was hanging out with the characters on the screen versus watching them live their lives from a third-person perspective.

In Garden State, Largeman and his friends lived boring, typical suburban lives except that Natalie Portman’s dogs humped everything that moved, the trio navigated a hotel sex trade and they ended up in a trailer at the top of a vast canyon. Little Miss Sunshine radically redefined the cinematographic expectation for the dysfunctional family in a way that we couldn’t believe, yet couldn’t resist.

Movies are made to speak to people, because otherwise, why would we spend $8 on a ticket and two hours of our lives in a theater with complete strangers? For a generation that loves reality television and won’t settle for anything less than the juiciest gossip and inside news, cinema has to keep up.

In Lars, the doll, Bianca, is voted onto the town’s school board, gets a job as a mannequin at a store in the mall and volunteers at the hospital. Are we supposed to believe the story we’re told, or are we supposed to be entertained?

If we don’t get a bit of both, the movie’s bound to be a flop.

If, like in Lars, we get an almost brutally honest and hysterical glimpse at a life that is barely believable, we relate. We see a mirror that reflects the unspoken aspect of our lives, and for that, it’s worth another $8 in theaters and maybe even 20 or so for the DVD.