The Film That Changed The Sex Doll Conversation

In the last two decades, the conversation surrounding has changed in somewhat incremental but noticeable ways.

With improvements in technology, not only with the dolls themselves but in the way that people who own them can now form communities around them and why they matter so much, there is a far greater collective understanding of the positivity they bring to people’s lives.

Part of this comes from the development of much more realistic designs but is also the unlikely result of Lars and the Real Girl, a 2007 film that ultimately failed at the box office, despite starring one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men.

The film stars Ryan Gosling as the eponymous Lars, a socially isolated young man who due to traumas linked to the loss of his mother has a phobia of being touched and tends to avoid social situations, something that is noticed in the small town in an unspecified Northern part of the USA.

Lars eventually introduces his brother and his wife to Bianca, a Brazilian-Danish missionary who is a life-sized doll heavily implied to be a RealDoll. 

After a visit to a psychotherapist under the guise of treatment for Bianca, Lars’ brother Gus, later aided by the whole town, starts to interact with her as if she were real, as she is both a sign of progress and a manifestation of Lars’ willingness to reach out.

Ultimately, Lars starts to break out of his shell and talk to other people and Bianca dies as a result, representing that all the emotional needs and barriers that she represented had been broken through, something that comes through when the town shows Lars the kindness Bianca represented for him.

Without such a careful, utterly sincere script and an Oscar-nominated performance by Mr Gosling, it could have been a relatively tawdry comedy. Instead, it became a fascinating and influential exploration into how dolls, as well as pets and other symbols of unconditional love, help people explore their traumas.

August 13, 2023