Sunday, April 20, 2008

Two Movies about Real Life?

It was one of those weeks when things got a little too overwhelming. Miguel had a bad infection – with a terrible cough and high temperatures. For the first time since November (the worst month of all) he looked terribly ill (and he felt just about as bad). His chemo had to be cancelled (which was a disappointment, given that we were so confident about the end of treatment being tantalizingly in sight) and he needed to be admitted for fluids and antibiotics. Luckily X-rays of his lungs showed nothing bad there and next week he will have a throat scope to see if there are any problems there. He is now feeling a little bit better, so don’t worry – but during the week I was more than a little fragile. Which brings me to two movies we saw this week……

I rented both Juno and Lars and the Real Girl – two new releases. I had seen Juno over the Christmas holidays and have already written about how the teenage pregnancy and parental responses were portrayed. But, seeing both of these movies over the course of a day led me to a few more opinions.

Given that the week was scary and I was scared and a bit feeble, both these movies were tear-inducing. When Juno is in the hospital and has just given birth I felt so very sad for her – and there is something very touching about Lars and the quiet hidden sorrow he feels. They are both tender movies, about human relationships and deep emotions.

The writer of Lars and the Real Girl was nominated for writing the Best Original Screenplay, as was Diablo Cody (who did win the Academy Award for the Best Original Screenplay for Juno). Although Lars and the Real Girl is unrealistic – there is a simple truth that resonates throughout the movie. Lars, a shy, sweet awkward young man develops a relationship with a sex doll he has purchased off the internet. Lars and the doll, named Bianca have a chaste respectful relationship. The people who love Lars accept Bianca and treat her as if she was part of their lives – they take her out and include her in their activities, invite her to parties, ask her to volunteer and even elect her to the School Board. They love Lars and so they help him – “Bianca is in town for a reason”. There are so many wonderful scenes of love and acceptance in the movie – one scene when Lars asks his older brother how he knew he had become a man and a scene when the local women arrive with casseroles and kindness to help Lars when tragedy strikes:

Sewing Circle Lady 3 - Hazel: Well that's how life is, Lars.
Mrs. Gruner: Everything at once.
Sewing Circle Lady 2 - Sally: We brought casseroles.
Lars : Thank you.
Lars : [Lars looks around the sewing circle. The three ladies are knitting and doing needlepoint] Um, is there something I should be doing right now?
Mrs. Gruner: No, dear. You eat.
Sewing Circle Lady 2 - Sally: We came over to sit.
Sewing Circle Lady 3 - Hazel: That's what people do when tragedy strikes.
Sewing Circle Lady 2 - Sally: They come over, and sit.

It isn’t snappy precious dialogue like Juno – but I think it is simpler and more honest. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed the depiction in Juno of a brave sensible young woman and I love to think that parents, schoolmates and the community would react as maturely and calmly in the face of a teenage pregnancy. Lars and the Real Girl makes us hope the same thing – that a community can gather round someone who needs support and love and do the right and respectful thing. These movies are more alike than I would have ever guessed. Good movies to see together and good movies for a sentimental weepy like me.........


Anonymous said...

I liked the same line in Lars as you did Krista. "That's what people do, they come over and sit." They also send soup, party sandwiches, let you vent, sympathize but not in an overly intrusive way, ask you how you are with it all and let you know they are thinking about you. The way you get through a rough time is different for each person and I wish you luck in these last few but difficult weeks of treatment... Linda

patrick said...

just saw Lars and the Real Girl, Gosling did a great job playing out his character's psychological transition from totally dysfunctional to somewhat functional