Thursday, May 29, 2008

City of Kindness

The Ash and I watched "Lars and the Real Girl" the other night. If you've seen a preview for it, then you pretty much know the premise. No big surprises or anything. I've kind of been thinking about it off and on ever since the closing credits rolled. It's not so much the quality of the film, although I'd say it's a perfectly fine piece of work. Where I think it really succeeds is the fact that they took this totally ridiculous and yet not so ridiculous premise and really committed to it all the way to the end. Which, of course, wasn't much of a surprise either. But a story isn't just about its ending, it's about how it gets there.

Which reminds me of this friend I had back in college who had this whole thing about watching movies competitively. It was always him vs. the film. Anytime we talked about a specific movie, he loved to brag about how soon he had its ending figured out. As if, by guessing the ending prior to the movie's midpoint, he'd somehow beaten it. Great guy, but he could be an annoying prick that way.

But back to Lars. Here's what really struck me about it: out of all the movies I've watched recently, I'd have to say that this one requires the most suspension of disbelief. See, you've got this guy, this one single solitary guy, who develops some, shall we say, mental issues. But rather than being ostracized by the community, rather than meeting with a reaction of fear-turned-anger-turned-hate, rather than freaking everybody the hell out, the entire community rallies around to protect, support, and care for him in what is obviously a time of need. Not just his family, not just a few nice folks from the church, but everybody. Maybe my vision of humankind is too bleak, but I just don't see that happening.

Which is not to say that I don't think it should happen. I love the idea of a community that exists to support the people out of which it is made, even, or perhaps especially the ones on the fringes. I love the thought of people not getting all bent out of shape when confronted with the fact that someone in their midst has some serious shit going on. Just a simple "these things happen" kind of attitude. Fact is, a lot of people, myself very much included, are usually too wrapped up in their own day-to-day bullshit to be able to pull up and take notice, much less be of use. I tend to think that people like Lars may not always be so lucky in the real world.

And I guess that's what was weird about this movie. Imperfect people in an imperfect world somehow managed to act, well, sort of perfectly. Or at least close to ideal. Idealism sometimes gets a bad rap, as if it is a synonym for naivete, but I don't buy that. I'd love to live in a world that kind.


Tara said...

Lars is still on my list of movies I need to get around to. (We finally watched Hot Fuzz two nights ago.)

One of my coworkers has seen it though. She's pretty conservative and I was really shocked that she actually watched it. The thing is she felt for this guy and was touched by how everyone cared for him, and didn't really find him scary or overly weird... maybe Lars would be cared for by his community. I bet if it was Lars and the Real Boy he'd be up a creek without a paddle though. Crazy to think that my coworker probably was more accepting of a guy having a relationship with a fake woman than she would be if he had one with a real man.

Jenn C. said...

I loved this movie. And I think we have a "Lars" kind of character here in town -- Leslie Cochran, the transgender homeless man who runs for mayor and gets housing from near-strangers.

When I lived in the tiny town of Cross Lanes, WV, it was very much like Lars' town. Everybody pulled together in times of crisis. Everybody knew about everyone else's dirty laundry/"secrets". It was really nice there. Oh... and marijuana grew wild by the train tracks and most everyone smoked it. Maybe that's why they were all so laid-back. NOT that I'm advocating drug-use in any way.

MetroDad said...

I'd love to live in a world of that kind also.

And after reading Jenn C's comment, I'm ready to move out of NYC and head on over to Cross Lanes, WV!

Jonathon Morgan said...

I've been meaning to watch that one for awhile. It's always on the previous of artsy-fartsy movies we rent from time to time. :)

Whit said...

It would be nice, but instead we live in a world where people would hate him for his issue or because plastic is bad for the environment.

sybil law said...

Never seen the movie, but we all know YOU'RE crazy, and yet we rally around you anyway, so it's kind of real, right? Right?!
Sounds good. I always think that at the end of movies like that, too. It's unfortunate that life really can't imitate art sometimes.