Despite the participation of indie darling, Greta Gerwig, Daryl Wein's limp, unbelievable romcom offers little to swoon over.
Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you’re on the verge of – oh my god! – your thirties, and every last guy in New York is already in a relationship. Such is the subject matter of the latest feature starring Greta Gerwig, Lola Versus.
Gerwig plays the title character, Lola, a literature student who must negotiate the messy emotional terrain that comes with the unexpected news of being dumped shortly before she is due to be married. From here she will fumble her way between comfort food, casual sex with a relative stranger, her best friend, and even her ex as she tries to come to terms with what it means to be (un)involved.
Lola Versus employs some of the romantic/dramedy genre’s recent and everlasting motifs: there’s a bit of the gross-out best friend (played by Zoe Lister-Jones, who also co-wrote the film), the sensitive and sympathetic guy friend (Hamish Linklater, playing the casual hipster not so far removed from the character he played in Miranda July’s far superior The Future) who becomes a brief love-interest/comfort-lay; and there’s also the slightly creepy guy (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) that Lola attempts to sleep with to try and help provide the film with some (bottled) comic relief, notably gigantic incubator penis jokes. It turns out – even though we always knew it on some level – he’s a rollerblader, i.e. not a credible romantic threat.
While Lola Versus does try to make some headway as an truthful anti-romantic comedy, it’s very far from connecting with any bittersweet or poignant truths about the aftermath of relationship in the way that, say, Annie Hall does. Joel Kinnaman, who plays Lola’s ex, Luke, adds drama to the situation by not really knowing what he wants, but instead of creating any ambivalence within the mind of the audience or even giving us a reason to hope for reconciliation, we are left wondering what Lola saw in this dull-eyed ‘artist’ in the first place. They share absolutely no chemistry whatsoever.
Gerwig is the key draw from this film, even though she now feels like a rote affectation having been almost typecast here as the Cute Ordinary Girl. She was once plucked from Mumblecore obscurity (Hannah Takes the Stair, LOL), earned indie-cred with Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg and Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress, which are still the best films she has been involved in. Those hoping for another Greenberg or a Damsels-level hit will have to wait, as Lola Versus is far too formulaic to even be crush-worthy, let alone fallen for.
Those three key words: "starring Greta Gerwig". In.
Poorly written, clichéd and almost impossible to invest any real empathy in any of the characters.
Gerwig's done enough good work to allow us to chalk this one up as a glossy blip.