lars & the real girl

i love movies.  my perfect day would be to see a really good movie every day of the week (along with some popcorn & a diet coke!).  i try to squeeze one in whenever i can, and this past week i watched my new recent fave that wasn’t a documentary:  lars & the real girl.  if you haven’t seen it yet and you like quirky, deep, simple movies, it’s worth checking out.  the story was about a socially awkward guy named lars who buys a realistic-sized girl doll (he names her bianca) and pretends she is real.  there’s nothing kinky about it, it is about him learning to grow up, do relationship, feel, heal, live.

there were so many tender & powerful takeaways, but here are a few of mine.

it takes courage to move toward healing.  it took some serious guts for lars to do what he needed to do on his journey.  of course everyone thought he had gone off the deep end, but he did it anyway, not becoming paralyzed by what other people thought, but risking ridicule & being misunderstood to get where he needed to go, to move toward the healing he needed. i think about how often we are so afraid of what other people think, about opening up all the old crazy wounds, that we stay stuck.  lars went for it.

the power & beauty of true community.  the community around lars was glorious, the real deal.  fix-it-fast-or-i-can’t-hang-with-you people, take note!  their willingness to embrace the craziness, to go along with the whole thing for lars’ sake, well, that is the part that got me the most.  they really went the distance with their friend.  they were willing to lay aside their agenda for him.  they were willing to do what he needed them to do instead of what they wanted to do.  the care & sacrifice of lars’ family & friends was such a picture of true, beautiful community participating in each other’s redemption, letting go of “our way” and going the full distance instead of only what feels comfortable to us.

learning to feel is painful.  lars was so cut off from healthy human contact that any touching at all hurt, like really really hurt.   recently i talked with a friend about how hard it is to receive good.  when we get so shut down, so numb, so protected, isolated, and disconnected from people & God, we can’t let anything good in without it hurting.  we wrote about this on the refuge blog a few months ago & called it the easter thaw.  this was exactly lars’ situation.  part of his journey of healing was to build up a tolerance to feel again, letting a little bit in at a time, in small doses, so he could practice slowly receiving more.

let go when it’s time.  i don’t want to give away any of the story but when it’s time to let go, we need to let go.  the people around lars allowed him to come to his own conclusions on his own time, but he was the one who had to make the transition, do the work, make the shift.  no one could do it for him.

if you have already seen it, would love to hear your thoughts. if you haven’t, it’s so worth seeing.  good $5 therapy, that’s for sure.  better than a 3 point sermon anyday.  the thoughts have lingered.  way to go lars.

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • Thanks for recommending a great movie for the inner Lars in all of us. 🙂

  • I LOVE this movie. It is all those things you talked about… some of which I am living, some people I love are living, some of it I’m looking for. One of my current favourites, too.

  • YES! It is my new favorite too, and I got many of the same things out of it. I especially loved the community aspect. I recommend EVERYBODY watch this movie.
    Sometimes I felt a little guilty laughing at the funniness because it was also so poignant. Behind every laugh was deeper meaning.
    Yes. Best movie I’ve seen in a long time….

  • Kathy,

    Just as I was sitting here thinking about what movie to put in my quite-neglected Blockbuster queue, along comes this post. I had heard of this movie some time ago, but it slipped to a burner way in the back.

    If you love movies of this nature, take a moment to check out The Station Agent. Perhaps you’ve seen it. If not, you can’t go wrong.



  • Brian, I agree about The Station Agent. I just loved that movie. Broken, strange people (like you and me) learning that they need each other. That movie really touched me. Great recommendation!

  • i just added station agent to my queue, i remember wanting to see it but totally forgot about it so now i can’t wait to check it out!

  • The funny thing is that both movies feature Patricia Clarkson.

    I just finished Lars. I can’t stop crying . . .

  • I gotta see that movie. I missed it in the non-profit indie theater in our ‘hood when it was out.

  • brian – loved her character in the movie, so good. yeah, it got to me, too!

    justin – thanks for stopping by. hope all’s well up there.

  • Oh yeah, no prob. I actually typed out a long response to a post of yours a long time ago but it blew up (or something – I don’t remember actually what happened to it). Things are great here! I hope all is well down thata way!


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