Rising indie star Greta Gerwig plays Lola, our unlucky titular character who is dumped mere weeks before her wedding to hipster dreamboat Luke (Joel Kinnaman, The Killing). As she struggles to come to terms with her enforced singlehood, she recruits her friends, family, and the city of NYC to come to her aid. They do. At first. The moral learned at the end is an obvious, but important one, which all twenty-somethings ultimately face one way or another. Co-writers Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein (who also directed) deserve props for penning some incredibly raw scenes in which life lessons are learned in the most hilariously uncomfortable of ways.
In many ways Lola Versus is a reverse romantic comedy, which provides a fun and unusual structure. Plenty of humor results from the very basic of not-so-young adult problems: lack of life experience, lack of sexual experience, lack of money. Such things often go unnoticed by other movie vixens as they’re blinded by the diamond rings Mr. Right wields like kryptonite to their independence. From that perspective, Lola Versus is unique and refreshing. Lola does not run around the city in Manolo Blahniks; she does not wake up with a face full of makeup. Her time is accounted for, her cash situation is depressing, and her vibe is natural — rather than the usual America’s Sweetheart brand of perky. In short, Gerwig’s Lola is more realistic than your average rom-com star — a welcome departure from the norm.
Another highlight of the film is co-writer/actress Zoe Lister-Jones’ (Whitney) portrayal of Alice, Lola’s BFF and occasional nemesis. She delivers snarky one-liners, situational comic relief, and provides a nice contrast to Greta Gerwig’s alluring, stoic heroine. Similarly, Luke, whom one would think would be the story’s natural villain, manages to come off as more likable than Lola. (Kinnaman clearly possesses substantial range, as Luke might very well be the antithesis of The Killing‘s Stephen Holder.) Perhaps what makes Luke more appealing than our protagonist is that he’s clearly one screwed up dude. He knows it; he owns up to it. Lola falls into the trap of many indie princesses: she’s too adorable, too innocent. And really, is being “too dang loveable” a flaw?
At the end of the day, Lola Versus is a breezy, occasionally hyper-real film full of hip-and-with-it New Yorkers engaging in amusing struggles with self-actualization. It has the right amount of up and downs, witty dialogue, and a message that teaches us that it’s A-OK to be alone even — nay especially — if you’re about to turn thirty.
On the Comediva scale of one to five cupcakes, Lola Versus is a delicious four!