Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Dunedin Blogs - and Lars

I've just added another Dunedin blog to the list of links down to the left: Al's Dunedin Blog.

Al(istair) uses his blog for at least three different purposes: to be skeptical about politicians and city councillors (with the Stadium issue at full bore in the city he has plenty of material); to promote other Dunedin blogs, which get visibility each time they produce another post (at least I think that's the approach), and thirdly, to promote the Affairs of the Society for Creative Anachronism in Dunedin: the Canton of Castelburn and the College of St Kessog. Yes, well you have to check out that section of the blog to get the full gist of what he's on about there! As far as I can make out with a quick look at the photos, this society likes to dress up in mediaeval gear and play out their fantasies in Chingford Park. Have a look - it might be just up your alley!

Al's a bit more organised in this respect: on my blog everything is bundled together in one large room without differentation. Thus music and the arts get lumped together with comments on atheists and Christianity, and acting in a play bumps shoulders with reviews of movies.

Which reminds me, I finally caught up with Lars and the Real Girl last night. I'd heard it was one out of the box, and it surely is. It takes a few minutes to align the audience with the mood and tone of the movie, but once it's got its grip on you, you're hooked. At least, I was.

Lars lives in the somewhat remodeled garage of the family home; his brother and expectant sister-in-law live in the main house. Lars is there by choice: he has a disinclination to need the close company of other people. In fact, we learn later on that he can't even bear to be touched. His mother died giving birth to him, and though his father never rejected him, he obviously left a sense of guilt/gloom on his son. The father is now dead too, so the only family Lars has is in the house across the yard from him.

However, even Lars knows that all isn't well with his soul, and in an oddball attempt to reconnect with life and the world, he buys a sex doll. Not for the reasons most guys might get one, not at all. Lars wants Bianca to be his girlfriend, and his relationship with her is very chaste. He wants other people to accept her as real, something they have some difficulty in doing - at least at first.

The film then becomes the story of Lars recovery, and of the townspeople's part in that recovery - along with Bianca's. It's quite off the wall, but once you accept where it's going, and that Lars isn't as delusional as his brother thinks he is, it's a delight. Furthermore there's very little hint of the salacious in it, and the filmmakers purposely avoid making Bianca a commodity or an object. (As the short accompanying film shows, they enjoyed 'believing' in her as a real person, and had a lot of fun with the fine line between belief and reality.)

The cast aren't well-known to me at all, especially Ryan Gosling, whom I don't remember seeing before. Emily Mortimer and Paul Schneider are familiar, but I couldn't tell you what I've seen them in. Patricia Clarkson is a very familiar face, but again I had to check out what she'd been in to see why I recognised her. Everyone of them is great, perfectly cast. You get the sense that everyone is fully involved in the movie and in its success.
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