Lars Lindstrom lives in the converted garage behind the house he and his brother Gus inherited from their father.
His pregnant sister-in-law Karin’s persistent attempts to lure him into the house for a family meal are usually rebuffed, and on the rare occasions he accepts, their conversation is stilted and he seems eager to leave as soon as he can. The young man finds it difficult to interact with or relate to his family, co-workers, or fellow parishioners in the church he regularly attends. Margo, Lars’s co-worker, is clearly interested in him, but Lars runs silently from her at every chance he gets.
One day Lars happily announces to Gus and Karin he has a visitor he met via the Internet, a wheelchair-bound missionary of Brazilian and Danish descent named Bianca. The two are startled to discover Bianca is a lifelike doll Lars ordered from an adult website. Concerned about his mental health, they convince Lars to take Bianca to Dagmar, the family doctor who is also a psychologist. Dagmar diagnoses Bianca with low blood pressure and advises Lars he needs to bring her in for weekly treatments, during which she will attempt to analyze him and get to the root of his behavior. She explains to Gus and Karin that this is a delusion of his own creation and for his own reason and purpose, and she urges them to assist with Lars’s therapy by treating Bianca as if she were a real woman. She treats him for delusional disorder.
It is discovered that Lars’s mother died during his birth, causing his father to change dramatically. These issues pushed Gus to leave home as soon as possible, leaving Lars to deal with a distant, heartbroken father alone. This also gives Lars an almost debilitating fear of having children that even Dagmar can’t calm easily. Although Lars is responsible in every sense of the word for himself and now Bianca, his pain and discomfort is evidenced by the baby blanket he carries in almost every scene and the fact that he refuses any kind of intimacy, including touch. Bianca sleeps alone in “the pink room” (a guest room in the house), while Lars still sleeps in the converted garage.
As time passes, Lars begins to introduce Bianca as his girlfriend to his co-workers and various townspeople. Due to their care and concern for Lars, everyone treats Bianca as a real person, and she soon finds herself involved in volunteer programs, getting a makeover from the local beautician, and working part-time as a model in a clothing store. Due to their acceptance of Bianca, Lars soon finds himself interacting more with people. During this time Margo has begun to date another co-worker, which over time begins to seemingly bother Lars.
Lars has a conversation with his brother during which he asks when he knew he had become a man and what being a man means. His brother’s explanation seems to reach Lars and his dependence on Bianca seems to immediately shift.
At work when a co-worker with whom Margo has been playing pranks goes a bit too far, Lars comforts her. During the ensuing conversation, Margo reveals she has broken up with her boyfriend. She invites him to go bowling, to which he responds that he has to take Bianca to a school-board meeting that same evening. He accepts after mentioning that he can drop her off then go to the bowling alley; the two spend a pleasant evening together along with some other townsfolk. During an uncomfortable silence at the evening’s end Lars is quick to remind Margo he could never cheat on Bianca. Although obviously disappointed, Margo replies that the thought never crossed her mind. As they part ways, Lars takes his glove off to shake Margo’s hand and they have a moment when their hands are clasped.
One morning soon after, Lars announces that Bianca is unresponsive, and she is rushed to the hospital by ambulance. Once there, he tells his family the prognosis is not good and that Bianca would like to be brought home. The news spreads through town, and everyone whose life has been touched by Bianca sends flowers or sits with Lars at the Lindstrom home. Gus and Karin ask Dagmar why this is happening, and she reveals that it is all Lars’s own doing. They suggest that Lars and Bianca join them for a visit to the lake. While the couple is hiking, Lars kisses Bianca for the first time and shortly after tells his brother and sister-in-law that Bianca has died.
Bianca is given a funeral, to which all the townspeople attend. After Bianca is buried, Lars and Margo linger at the grave site, and his acceptance of his past has made him a whole man. When Margo states that she should catch up with everyone else, Lars asks her to take a walk, an offer she happily accepts.
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This is a heartwarming story about one single mans fears, traumas, solitude and how the whole city ends up being a part of helping him back to life.