NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Moho, www.mholder.com Make sure you check out her AMAZING photography, Thanks Monica!
She adds..."this movie was very sweet and funny. Ryan Gosling is really good in this. Of course you have to suspend all sense of reality, but this is worth the ride. Very nicely done. The loneliness theme is something most of us can probably relate to.
The movie opens with Lars (Ryan Gosling) staring out the window of his apartment. His place looks pretty sparse and dim. He has a crocheted scarf around his neck as he continues to stare. We then see a pregnant woman exiting the house across the lawn. We later find out that this is Lars’ sister in law, Karin (Emily Mortimer). She walks to Lars’ door and begins to knock. (Note: It looks like Lars is living in a garage apartment of a larger house.) Lars tries to hang back like he’s not home in hopes that she will leave, however Karin continues to knock. He then appears at the door (which has a window) and acknowledges Karin. Lars never opens the door and simply speaks to her through it. They exchange pleasantries and Karin invites Lars to dinner later that evening. He eventually says sure and she seems happy that he has accepted the invitation and returns to the house.
We then see Lars sitting in church listening to the reverend speak. There is a girl in the choir that we later find out to be Margo (Kelli Garner), who seems to be looking at Lars in a sweet way. Lars notices that a child in another pew has dropped an action figure and he picks it up and sits it on the edge of the pew. The figure falls on the floor making a noise in the very quiet church. Lars, looking like a child caught doing something wrong, straightens up in his seat in hopes that no one will notice that it was he that made the noise.
While Lars is in church, Karin is telling her husband (Lars’ brother), Gus (Paul Schneider) that he owes her $5 because Lars is coming to dinner. Gus says he doesn’t owe her until Lars is sitting at the table. Karin remarks to Gus that she thinks something is wrong with Lars because he is such a recluse. To which Gus remarks that Lars is 27 years old and maybe he wants to be left alone.
We then see Lars exiting the church. People seem to like him. He helps an older parishioner, Mrs. Gruner (Nancy Beatty) to her car with a large bouquet of flowers. They are the flowers from the church, which get donated to hospital patients. As Lars is placing the flowers in her trunk, Mrs. Gruner suggests that Lars should try and get a girlfriend. I don’t remember exactly, but I think Margo attempts to talk to Lars and asks if he wants to hang out. He doesn’t say anything; he just kind of politely ignores her. He does this often to people whenever they mention social outings or dating or anything that he’s not comfortable with.
Lars drives up to his garage apartment from church. Karin is looking out the window, waiting for Lars to come over for dinner (because he accepted the invitation earlier), but he scurries into the apartment and turns the light out. We then see Gus saying that Karin actually owes him $5. Once inside, Lars simply sits on his bed (in the dark) for a while.
He arrives at work the next morning. The receptionist greets him and encourages him to talk to the new girl and get a date. He politely ignores her and disappears behind the double doors. This is where all of the cubicles are. He walks to his desk and passes by the new girl (who is the same Margo from church). At this point I am finally figuring out that this is a pretty small town that Lars lives in. The town appears to be in Wisconsin (based on the license plates). Wherever it is, it is a cold place because Lars is always wearing boots and gloves. Once at his desk, Lars prepares for his day when the guy sitting next to him, Kurt (Maxwell McCabe-Lokos), says that he wants to show him something. Lars replies that he is not in the mood for porn. Kurt says it isn’t porn, only sort of porn. Lars hesitates and then acquiesces. Kurt shows him a website where you can design and order an anatomically correct, life sized doll.
Margo again approaches and tries to talk to Lars. He again politely ignores her and goes about his day. When he drives up to his apartment, Karin is there waiting for him. She again asks him to dinner. He begins to make up several excuses as to why he cannot. She is persistent and as he tries to walk away she tackles him and he finally agrees to come over. He is at the dinner table with Karin and Gus and no one is talking much. Lars appears to be just pushing his food around his plate. Karin leaves the room and Gus tells Lars that she is worried about him because he spends so much time alone. Lars says that he is fine. It is here that we find out that Gus and Lars’ mother died and that their father became a recluse afterward. It is also implied that their mother died giving birth to Lars, which is confirmed later in the film.
A title appear on the screen that says ‘six weeks later’ and then we see a UPS truck dropping off a large box at Lars’ apartment. Karin then calls Lars at work to let him know that he just received a very large package. Lars gets home and kind of just looks at the box and we see him starting to get ready for something. He’s combing his hair and trying on different sweaters. Once he settles on a sweater, he goes across the lawn to Gus and Karin’s. Karin opens the door and Lars says that he has a visitor. Gus and Karin are clearly surprised. He goes on to say the following things about his visitor:
- She is not from here
- She doesn’t speak much English
- They met on the internet
- She’s really religious
Once he finishes, he then asks if Bianca can stay over at their place because they really shouldn’t be sharing a bed. Of course Gus and Karin agree. Lars returns later with Bianca and we see everyone sitting in the living room. Gus and Karin are staring in disbelief because they now realize that Lars’ visitor is a big doll named Bianca. Lars leans over every so often to listen to Bianca or respond to her, but of course she’s not really saying anything. Karin and Gus don’t know what to do, so they reluctantly play along. Lars then says that Bianca was raised by nuns and that she is 1/2 Brazilian and 1/2 Danish. Everyone is having dinner and Lars is eating his food and Bianca’s. During the dinner conversation, which is primarily Lars speaking for him and Bianca (because Gus and Karin are clearly still shocked) he reveals that Bianca’s wheelchair was stolen in her travels and asks Karin if Bianca can borrow some of her clothes. Dinner wraps up and Lars caries Bianca upstairs to the guest room that she will be in (which we later find out was Lars’ mother’s room). The room is all pink. Lars tells Bianca that she will be comfortable in there and that she has fresh towels thanks to Karin and then he leaves for the evening. On his way out the door Karin suggests that they all take Bianca to the doctor after her long trip. Lars agrees and goes home for the evening. Gus then says that Lars doesn’t need a doctor, he needs a psychiatrist. Karin then lets him know that the doctor, Dagmar (Patricia Clarkson) is also a psychologist. Because they live so far north any doctor in town needs multiple disciplines.
Karin goes in the pink room, where Bianca is and looks under her skirt and notices that the doll has a vagina. Gus looks on the website at the dolls. The next day at Dagmar’s office, Bianca’s blood pressure is taken. Dagmar tells Lars that her blood pressure is low and that Lars will need to bring her in weekly for treatment. He agrees. While Lars and Bianca wait in the lobby, Gus and Karin talk to Dagmar. She says that Lars has a delusion. Gus asks how long it will last, to which she replies until he doesn’t need it anymore. Karin asks what they can do to help and she says that they need to go along with it. Gus is incredulous and says that he won’t do it. He says that Lars needs to be committed and that people will laugh at him. Dagmar says that people will laugh at him (Gus) too. When they exit Dagmar’s office, they see a child sitting in Bianca’s lap (who has a wheel chair now) and the adults are staring. Lars comments that Bianca loves kids.
The next day at breakfast, as Lars is coming over for every meal now, Gus tells Lars that Bianca isn’t real. Lars politely ignores him and gets ready to go to work. He lets Bianca know that she will be okay and that he will be back after work. Lars walks into the office very happy and greets the receptionist. While Lars is at work, Gus and Karin have a meeting at the church. The reverend and some of the older parishioners including Mrs. Gruner are present. Gus and Karin let everyone know about Bianca and that the doctor says that they need to play along. Everyone refuses and then Mrs. Gruner speaks up and tells everyone that they all have family members with different problems and that she will support Lars in this by going along. Everyone, including the reverend fall in line and agree to go along with it. Gus also tells the people that he works with and Karin tells her friends.
We then see Gus, Karin, Lars and Bianca in church. Bianca is sitting in her wheelchair and has a hymnal propped up in her hands. When the song is over, everyone sits except Margo (who is in the choir). She stands in disbelief at Lars and Bianca. However, she seems to really like Lars and has compassion for the situation and goes along like everyone else.
Karin dresses Bianca and Lars comes by to pick her up. He says that as a surprise and because she has been asking a lot of questions about him, that he is taking Bianca to the lake that he and Gus used to play at when they were kids. When he leaves, Gus researches delusions on the internet. Once at the lake, Lars carries Bianca to the tree house that he and Gus used to play in. Hey lays Bianca on the ground with her head propped up by rocks, while he gets on the tree (there is some type of platform that he lays on here). He reclines talks to Bianca and sings a love song.
Cut to Gus and Karin giving Bianca a bath asking themselves why they are doing this for him. Lars then takes Bianca to her weekly appointment. Dagmar gives Bianca treatment and tells Lars that she has to rest a while if the treatments are going to work. They go into her office while Bianca rests in the examination room. Dagmar very casually asks Lars questions about Bianca and him. Lars opens up and then he tells Dagmar that he think that Karin has a problem. Dagmar inquires further and Lars says that Karin has a hugging problem. That she hugs everyone and that hugs hurt. Lars says that he doesn’t like to be touched because touching and hugs feels like burning frostbite. He says he keeps people from touching his skin by wearing lots of layers. Dagmar says that she can’t change Karin, but she can help him. She takes him to examination room and touches his skin with her finger in various places. Once on the forearm and we see Lars wince and he says that it is painful. She then puts the palm of her hand on the back of his neck and he says that he can take the pain. Dagmar says that it’s enough for the day and Lars and Bianca leave. Lars is invited to the annual holiday party given by the receptionist. All of the partygoers are told about Bianca before she and Lars arrive. Everyone is kind of shocked and they try not to stare. The receptionist greets Lars and Bianca. Lars has put a bottle of wine in Bianca’s hands, which the receptionist takes and offers both of them drinks. Lars says that Bianca doesn’t drink, but he will have a beer. He then says Bianca doesn’t like it when he drinks either, but he tells Bianca that he is having only one beer. Margo comes over and offers to take Lars and Bianca’s coats. She does and then goes on mingling. We see Lars notice that Margo is at the party with someone. We later find out that the guy is a new boyfriend named Erik (Billy Parrott). Lars is then sitting around with Bianca and a group of ladies, all chatting about various things. Lars gets drinks for the ladies and while he’s gone the ladies talk about how unusual this is, but they are quite nice and compassionate about the situation. They said that they were glad to find out beforehand; because it would have been too much they had not known about Bianca before the party. Bianca, the receptionist, her husband and Lars are all on the dance floor. Lars seems to be slow dancing alone. The receptionist’s husband is twirling Bianca around in her wheelchair. Lars appears to be emotional or on the verge of crying in this scene.
We then see Lars and Bianca’s everyday life. The whole town has gotten into it and they treat Bianca like a real person. She volunteers with Mrs. Gruner at the hospital. Bianca reads to the kids (they place a tape recorder behind her and a book in her hands). The ladies take her shopping and to the hair salon. She eventually gets elected to the school board. This is the townspeople’s way of keeping an eye on Lars, as he takes Bianca most places. Lars takes her shopping too and suggests that he and Bianca get cell phones. This whole time, Lars is also taking Bianca to her weekly appointments with Dagmar. In the appointments Lars says that Bianca can’t have children. He also says that being pregnant is very scary because the mother could die in childbirth. Dagmar tries to assuage him and let him know that technology has improved since his mother passed away, but he hyperventilates and remains very nervous.
Gus talks to Karin and blames himself for Lars’ mental condition. He says that he left home as soon as he could and left Lars with their father, who had a severe broken heart. Meanwhile, at work Lars seems to notice Margo more and more. He pays attention to her comings and goings. He also watches her with Erik. He actually seems a little jealous when he sees her with Erik.
One night Lars arrives at home and is ready to spend the evening with Bianca when he learns that Bianca is going to a charity function with Mrs. Gruner. He is clearly upset and says that Bianca is supposed to stay at home with him tonight and play Scrabble. Karin asks him did he check Bianca’s schedule, which is posted on the fridge. He says no and Karin continues to get Bianca ready for the dinner. Lars pouts and takes Bianca out to the car. Mrs. Gruner tells him to stop sulking hat Bianca has her own life and that he is acting like her husband. Mrs. Gruner gets ready to drive off and says that she will have Bianca back at 11pm.
Lars angrily begins to chop wood after Mrs. Gruner leaves. He vents that nobody cares about him and that he shouldn’t have to schedule time with his girlfriend. Karin starts yelling at him and tells him that Bianca has so many friends and activities because people love him and that the town is trying to make her feel welcome because all of them love Lars. She reminds him that everyone pitches in to help out with Bianca and that they carry her around even though she is not a petite girl. Karin storms off. When Bianca returns, Lars argues with her in the pink room. They argue for quite a while and Gus wants to know what’s going on.
Lars and Bianca continue on with their daily lives as Lars continues to notice Margo more and more at work. One day he actually walks to Margo’s cube and stands there. When she acknowledges him, he shrugs and walks away. In the next therapy session we find out that Lars asked Bianca to marry him and that she said no. He’s sad about it. We see him arguing with Bianca more often.
Lars then begins asking Gus what makes him a man. Did sex make him a man? Gus explains that being a man is taking responsibility and doing what is right even though it may not be what you want to do. Taking care of others and honoring your word. Gus also apologizes to Lars for leaving him at home with their broken-hearted father.
One day at work Kurt hangs a noose around the neck of Margo’s teddy bear. Margo is upset about it (this is the next step in an on-going game that Kurt and Margo have been playing). Lars goes to console her and they sit in the break room. Lars begins to give the bear CPR and Margo tells him that she and Erik recently broke up. Margo goes on to say that there was no real reason that they broke up, it just wasn’t working. Lars asks why Erik was her boyfriend and Margo replies that sometimes she gets lonely, but that she believes that the right person will come along. Later Margo asks if he and Bianca would like to go out later on and that it would make her feel better. Lars says that he has to take Bianca to her school board meeting so she won’t be available; however he is available after he drops her off.
They go bowling and have a good time. Other people that they know show up and bowl with them and Lars has a lot of fun. At the end of the evening Lars says to Margo that he can’t cheat on Bianca ever. Margo says that she would never ask him to do anything like that and that she would never take someone else’s boyfriend. The evening ends and as they are about to get in their respective cars Lars reaches out to shake Margo’s hand without his glove on, which is a really big deal for him.
The days float by and Lars says that Bianca is ill. One morning Lars screaming for Bianca to wake up awakens Gus and Karin. Lars tells them that she is unconscious. They don’t know what to do with Lars because he is so emotional and Karin suggests that they call 911. The ambulance comes and Dagmar meets them in the emergency room. After Dagmar looks after Bianca with Lars in the room so that they can talk, Lars comes out to lobby and tells Gus and Karin that Bianca is dying. Lars goes back to Bianca’s room while Gus and Karin look to Dagmar for answers. She says that she does not know why Lars is doing this, but that these are his decisions.
Apparently Bianca is bedridden to some extent after the hospital episode. Lars spends lots of time in the pink room with Bianca. Bianca’s illness (of increasing severity) apparently is coinciding with the impending birth of Gus and Karin’s baby. Gus, Karin, Bianca and Gus go to the lake (the same one as earlier) one day. Gus and Karin go for a walk, while holding each other. Lars watches them walk away and spends this time with Bianca. Lars begins to cry and kisses Bianca on the lips for the first time. When Gus and Karin return from their walk they see Lars in the water holding Bianca in his arms. Apparently Bianca is fading fast. The whole town now knows that Bianca is gravely ill. Mrs. Gruner and the other older ladies from the church come over to sit with Lars. Gus and Karin go out and they encourage Lars to allow the sick Bianca to rest. They feed Lars and just spend time with him. All of the townspeople leave gifts, flowers and pictures of Bianca on the front porch while she is ill. Shortly thereafter Bianca dies and a funeral is held in the church for her and presided over by the reverend. She is then buried at the cemetery in a plot near Lars’ parents. Everyone attends the funeral and burial site and wondering what is going to happen to Lars without his companion. Everyone leaves the cemetery except Lars who is standing over Bianca’s grave. Margo then walks up to him and offers her condolences. After a short silence Lars asks her if she would like to take a walk. She accepts and the credits roll.
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