It is the routine of MNFC these days, that once the food has settled and people’s drinks are charged, that the host for that night reveals piece by piece why they have chosen their film of choice. Often, it is because it is a all-time favourite. Sometimes, it is to shock or inspire the crowd. At times, because it is a film the host has never seen but really wants to.
As such it was a refreshing new approach for Di to introduce her film, stating the reason behind the choice as being, to paraphrase: “because the lead actor is a bit of hot totty”. At least, words to that effect. Thus, in the summer sweat of Finsbury Park, were we introduced to 2 hours of whimpers, swoons and pulsating hormones from some of the MNFC crowd, and thankfully, the frankly brilliant Lars and the Real Girl, staring some ugly bloke called Ryan Gosling.
The film follows Lars (Gosling), a sweet yet quirky, socially inept young man, who develops a romantic relationship with an anatomically correct sex doll, a “Real Doll” named Bianca. His sister-in-law is worried for him and his brother thinks he’s crazy. But as his family come together to support Lars in this “illness”, the wider community too becomes involved and the townsfolk start to accept Bianca amongst them.
Ryan Gosling in his promotion for the film didn’t do his interviews alone. Here he is, with questions also being answered, somewhat indirectly, by Bianca: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbnKM8tJW1U
In our discussion afterwards, we reflected on whether the film was an accurate depiction of mental illness or not. As a doctor, I noticed aspects in the symptoms depicted and management of Lars that of course are not real-world accurate. However, I along with the rest of MNFC decided that this film isn’t really about delusions or mental illness. It is about loneliness, about growing-up, and about how a community and friends can help each other. There were lots of nods to all these themes beyond the relationship of Lars and Bianca: the sermon from the vicar, the back-story of the doctor and admitting how lonely she was, the sister-in-law expecting a baby, and Lars’ brother struggling to define how he “knew he was a man”. We had a great post-film discussion about all these themes, and also about what defines a delusion. After all, was Lars’ belief any different to his co-workers teddy bear or action figures? As a result of loneliness, Lars’ delusion could be seen as equal to other depictions in film, for example Tom Hank’s friendship with a volleyball he names Winston in Castaway: another example of a fixed false belief that defines a delusion but in the the case of Castaway a situation that I doubt would be classed as one, whilst perhaps Lars’ relationship would be.
The film has had some criticism regarding the response of the community to Lars’ situation being unbelievable. But this film is not social realism, and adds to the whimsical charm and sense of hope and happiness that it evokes.
And it was also about blow-up dolls.
Now, with this in mind, it is traditional to add links in the Tuesday Review to websites of interest that relate to the film but less directly linked to it. Clearly, this lends itself to a set of google searches that may get me banned from my internet provider. So, I’m not posting a link to “real life sex dolls”… suffice to say that the internet age has blessed us with such purchases being very easy, and very bespoke, and relatively lifelike with attachments and removal parts galore. Should you be intrigued, well, this time I’ll let you do the research yourselves!
Following on to this, our post-film chin-stroking also covered people’s real-life obsession with real-life dolls, and were all sure we had seen ‘documentaries’ on Channel 5 that cover such topics. Well Comrades, it turns out this is called agalmatophilia – yep, there is a name for everything! The Daily Mail of course has this covered: “A robot fan has told how he lives in a strange three-way love triangle to two life-like dolls which are so anatomically correct they have their own tongue.” – click here for more! And beyond this, as requested by the film clubbers, here is the link to the documentary Married to the Eifel Tower.
Whilst, as I hope you can tell from this review, the film was extraordinary in many ways, it would be unjust of me to sign off from this particular review without the following two things.
Firstly, to looking forward to Comrade Lucy and the next instalment of MNFC on August 11th 2014.
And secondly, in honour of the dictator of the night Di, this. Don’t say I don’t give you anything.
Possibly the weirdest Tuesday Review I’ve written so far. Whatever next. Over to you Lucy…
Until the next time
If your TUESDAY REVIEW has minor contamination then simply clean the area over with a wet towel