Unexpected Community

Lars and the Real Girl
Lars and the Real Girl (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)
Watching a movie about a life sized doll ordered off the Internet was not where I expected to discover community. Yet in Lars and the Real Girl, community plays a central role as each character decides what to do about Bianca – the doll that Lars believes is real. Can Bianca come in for dinner? Lars' brother doesn't want to be associated with crazy. His sister-in-law, Karin, seems a bit more open. She asks what they can do to help, but recoils at the thought of letting Bianca borrow her clothes. It is a very personal request. Here is where Karin draws the line – Bianca doesn't have the same style. But Lars says Bianca doesn't care about stuff like that.The movie focuses on the community including Bianca so Lars can feel included, too. The community includes her for Lars. Lars, too, faces the challenge of valuing his doll. I think the most powerful moment is when Lars has to decide what he will do about Bianca. Will Lars accept that Bianca is part of the community, not owned by him?
Bianca had value because the people chose to give it to her - by giving her a job, volunteer positions and a social life. Bianca did nothing. However, I believe she gave the greatest gift in the movie. Bianca gave the community an opportunity to decide about Lars. To view him as other, or part of common humanity. To change to include him or reject him for being different. Choosing to give Bianca value created a place for Lars to belong. The choice of each individual affected the community as a whole.
Lars and the Real Girl demonstrates how what we value shapes our communities. Disability challenges others who find their value in their abilities. Finding identity in a relationship makes it too valuable, something to cling to for life until there is no life left. Finding value in what we own makes tackling poverty more difficult, even if it is simply lending clothes to a doll.

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