"Lars and the Real Girl" is a great movie. Dysfunctional guy buys sex-doll and relates to her as if she's real, but over time finds himself longing for something more alive than latex can provide; it might not sound very compelling, but it somehow is. Casting, acting, script, and direction all combine to create a film so well executed that I was completely drawn in.
"Lars", though, isn't really about Lars very much at all, and certainly not about latex lady. The main theme seems to be centered around the question, "How do we support, help, and empower those with mental illness to move towards healing?" That, of course, is a big question, answered by both the "Lars" film, and another recent film ("Reign Over Me"), in the same way: friendship and acceptance.
In both movies the theme seems to be that healing will happen, in its time, if the right conditions are provided for such. The right conditions, we learn, are: support, unconditional acceptance, love, and relationship. It was beautiful to see the community gather around "Lars" and play along, welcoming the doll into their small town as a genuine member of their community. Indeed, scene after scene illustrated the healing capacities a community can have when, together, they love those in their midst who are in need.
It's all very good and touching. But as much as I loved the movie, when it was over I found myself saying, "Really? Does it really work to simply play along with people's delusions until they come to sense reality? Is that really how this is supposed to play out? Are we supposed to let those who are stuck in fantasy world's remain stuck until, on their own, they see the destructive nature of it?"
I think of Nathan the prophet confronting David with his sin of adultery and subsequent cover up. Far from sharing a few beers and pretending that all is well, Nathan points his bony finger at David and accuses him. Paul does the same thing with Peter. Jesus does the same thing with his disciples...more than once.
No, I don't think that the road to healing always includes jabbing a finger into someone's chest and poking hard until they see the truth. But I don't think it always includes playing along with fantasies either. My problem resides in knowing when 'accept' and 'play along' and when to confront; when to speak and when to be silent. Surely love demands both responses, depending on the circumstance, but knowing which response is appropriate requires more than love; it requires wisdom.