Lars is an extreme introvert who mostly keeps to himself. But one day he invites Bianca (a friend he says he met on the internet) to visit him. Problem is, Bianca is not a real person; she is a life-size doll that Lars treats as if she were alive. At the doctor’s insistence, Lars’ brother Gus and his wife Karen reluctantly agree to treat Bianca as a real person in the hopes that it will help Lars break out of his delusion.
Of course, the movie chronicles Lars’ emotional journey. But the thing that struck — and inspired — me was the response of the community. Even though Lars lived mostly in solitude and didn’t mix well with others, people from his church and workplace supported him during this delusional period in is life.
In the midst of it, Lars hits a low point and tells his brother’s wife, Karin, that she doesn’t care about him. Kain reacts, saying …
That is just not true! […] Every person in this town bends over backward to make Bianca feel at home. Why do you think she has so many places to go and so much to do? Huh? Huh? Because of you! Because — all these people — love you! We push her wheelchair. We drive her to work. We drive her home. We wash her. We dress her. We get her up, and put her to bed. We carry her. […] None of this is easy — for any of us — but we do it. Oh! We do it for you! So don’t you dare tell me how we don’t care.
Later, when Lars believes that Bianca is dying, three older women from a “sewing circle” come and sit with him while Gus and Karin get away for an evening. Here’s part of their conversation …
Hazel: Well that’s how life is, Lars.
Mrs. Gruner: Everything at once.
Sally: We brought casseroles.
Lars: Thank you. [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.
Sally: We came over to sit.
Hazel: That’s what people do when tragedy strikes.
Sally: They come over, and sit.
And finally, Lars believes that Bianca’s illness has ended in death. At the funeral, which was attended by people in Lars’ life, the pastor says …
Lars asked us not to wear black today. He did so to remind us that this is no ordinary funeral. We are here to celebrate Bianca’s extraordinary life. From her wheelchair, Bianca reached out and touched us all, in ways we could never have imagined. She was a teacher. She was a lesson in courage. And Bianca loved us all. Especially Lars. Especially him.
Well, it’s hard to imagine anyone having the kind of delusion that Lars did. And unfortunately, it’s also hard to imagine a community responding with as much love and maturity as Lars’ community did.
But I’d like to believe that that kind of community (specifically in the context of the church) is possible!