' Cinema Romantico: Lola Versus

Monday, December 03, 2012

Lola Versus

The life of 29 year old Lola (Greta Gerwig) is all good. She’s in a relationship with Luke (Joel Kinnaman). She’s going to school for her PhD. All that could make it more grand is if Luke chose to put a ring on her finger. Which he does. Before the opening credits are done rolling. But then, right when the opening credits stop rolling, Luke decides to break the wedding off. And Lola’s world comes crashing down.


Thankfully, Lola has good-hearted friends like Alice (Zoe Lister Jones, who co-wrote the script with director Daryl Wein) and Henry (Hamish Linklater), even if they both come equipped with single people problems of their own. They stay in and hang out. They venture to clubs, though this rarely ends well. Luke tries to worm his way back into the picture and then worm his way back out again. Lola Meets Not Cute At All with a cloying Ani DiFranco fan at a fish market. She starts to fall for Henry. He starts to fall for her. In other words, “Lola Versus” is less than judiciously plotted, more episodic, a rambling ninety minutes meant to crystallize one New York woman’s rambling free fall.

A few of the side characters are drawn too broadly and Lola’s parents, despite being well played by Bill Pullman and Debra Winger, come and go, only called upon when needed to deliver some sort of urban swami-like message and, of course, redemption, an infinite process, is found in a lone whimsical montage.

Thankfully the ever-fearless Greta Gerwig is not afraid to go full-bore in bottoming out and making her confusion as endearing as it is maddening. There is a line where Alice tells her: “Your sentences don’t always fit together.” This is an exquisite summation of Gerwig’s wholly original cadence. It’s not that her sentences DON’T fit together, because generally they do, but they SOUND as if they do not. How many times have you forged ahead in speaking without a clear idea of where you were taking your sentences? At first, you think you know what you’re saying, only to quickly realized you’re struggling with vocally formulating the thought that looked so obvious in your mind. THIS IS HOW GERWIG TALKS! Like, you know, all the time! And it meshes perfectly with her character’s jigsaw state of mind.

Aside from Gerwig’s authentic quirkiness, there is one detail “Lola Versus” gets spectacularly right and perhaps it occurred to me that much more because Gerwig co-starred in the spectacularly awful “No Strings Attached.” That was a rom com caper that went to (not necessarily great) lengths to show Natalie Portman as a single gal who didn’t need no man……except, of course, that she did. In the end, whether it knew it or not, that whole movie’s point was that a woman (hell, a human being!) is worthless standing on her/his own. None of Lola’s relationships feel convincing specifically because they AREN’T convincing. She’s been raised on the pretense that being single in the city is the modern woman’s greatest sin. Our Gal Lola exposes the lie.

Greta Gerwig is the Emo Meg Ryan.

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