Let’s get this admission out right away: I am the target audience for Lola Versus. I’m a 20-something woman living, working and loving in New York City and this film was made for me. And ya know? I’m not ashamed to say I completely – predictably – fell under its spell.
That’s not to say Lola Versus is the typical chick flick. It’s more of a post-romantic comedy. It’s about what happens when the happily ever after, well, isn’t. What happens when Cinderella and Prince Charming break up? In this case, it sends Cinderella – a golden-haired beauty named Lola (Greta Gerwig) – into a tailspin.
At 29 years old, Lola is this-close to having it all. She’s got a cute artist fiance, an awesome loft in New York City and she’s nearing a graduate degree in English literature. But shortly before her wedding day, her fiance, Luke (Joel Kinnaman), drops a bombshell – he doesn’t think things are working out. Newly dumped and almost 30, Lola’s forced to move back into her tiny studio apartment and figure out how to pick up the pieces. That process, as it turns out, involves a lot of trial and error. She tries dating her best friend, a sweetheart named Henry (Hamish Linklater). She tries dating a well-hung architect (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) named Nick (“the Dick”). She even tries falling back into the arms of Luke. Her various break-up remedies give the film some of its funniest scenes. Lola goes to a sauna, she goes to therapy, she goes to a bar, she eats copious amounts of macrobiotic “junk food.” We feel her pain, but at the same time it’s really amusing to watch her deal with that pain. At one point, she exclaims hilariously, “I’m slutty but I’m a good person!” Gerwig proves an exceedingly good wallower.
Ultimately the story turns from Lola trying to get over her ex, to trying to find out who she is and what she wants out of life. And that’s where the movie really sets itself apart from other chick flicks. It’s that rare film that makes ending up alone seem like the more viable – and preferable – option!
Another thing that sets this film apart is its leading lady – indie darling Greta Gerwig, proving she’s got the big talent for a bigger budget film. With her open features and honey-dipped voice, she’s so welcoming and natural that you can easily picture her being your best gal pal. She’s not ditzy, but she’s not perfect either and that’s what makes Lola so likable. It’s also great to see Joel Kinnaman in a different light from his role as Det. Stephen Holder on AMC’s The Killing. In contrast from the grungy cop he plays, as Luke he looks healthy and handsome. You can understand why it was hard for Lola to let go!
is also bolstered by a snappy, relatable script by Daryl Wein
(who also directed the film) and Zoe Lister-Jones
(who co-stars as Lola’s best friend Alice). Wein
make a great team – they’re a couple in real-life and also collaborated together on the semi-autobiographical Breaking Upwards
. And Lister-Jones
certainly wrote a great part for herself! As the desperately single scene-stealer Alice, she’s got the best one-liners and funniest gags. For example, there’s a scene where she gets a fake tan so she can tells guys she “just got back from vacation.” Lister-Jones
is a comedy force to be reckoned with.
And in his first large(r) budget feature, Wein does a great job of showcasing New York City. Believe it or not, Lola Versus was the first movie to shoot at Russ and Daughters and on the High Line. So even though the NYC location has been done to death, the film managed to feel fresh. I also loved that Lola’s apartment is realistically tiny. My gripes were that the scenes where she tries dating Henry seemed rushed and a bit forced, and the scenes where Lola is traipsing around the city majorly drunk – and completely alone – were a bit unsettling. Only in the movies could a young, pretty woman do that and not get mugged or worse!
But if we’re going for overall affect, as part of the target audience, I can say that Lola Versus hits the bullseye.
Dumped by her boyfriend just three weeks before their wedding, Lola enlists her close friends for a series of adventures she hopes will help her come to terms with approaching 30 as a single woman.