Lola Versus is not much more than what's offered on TV
Starring Greta Gerwig, Joel Kinnaman, and Zoe Lister Jones. Rated 14A. Opens Friday, June 22, at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas
Up-and-comer Greta Gerwig plays the eponymous protagonist in Lola Versus, a 29-year-old grad student in French literature whose world is rocked when her hunky painter beau (The Killing’s Joel Kinnaman) proposes marriage and then calls off the wedding. They don’t break up, exactly, but Lola must depart his trendy New York City loft.
The film was cowritten by director Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister Jones, who also plays Lola’s wisecracking best friend. And their dialogue is largely of the modern-sitcom variety—that is, if Zooey Deschanel was allowed, or wanted, to say things like, “I have to go wash my vagina.” Hamish Linklater, the curly haired brother on The New Adventures of Old Christine, is wasted as a long-time pal crushing on Lola. Debra Winger and Bill Pullman fare somewhat better as her parents, who remember a looser time in the sexy ’70s. And Ebon Moss-Bachrach is notably amusing, in a young Christopher Walken way, as a “prison architect” who Lola almost accidentally dates.
This brings us back to Gerwig, who was more distinctive as the puppylike mess in Greenberg and the too-put-together debutante in Damsels in Distress. Here, she’s treated as little more than an indie Kate Hudson. I don’t think anyone could have put more life into Lola, who gets drunk a lot, screws the wrong people, and gradually offends everyone around her. She does, at least, get around to defending her college thesis with quotes from Stéphane Mallarmé, so mad props for that.
The film looks good while exploring the whiter reaches of privileged Manhattan, and it has the usual jangly guitar score. But since we’re talking TV, let’s just admit that this doesn’t really offer anything we can’t find in franker, funnier form on HBO’s Girls. That razor-tongued show is about unattached New Yorkers in their early 20s—when they’re supposed to be confused. Still floundering at 30? Not nearly as cool.
Watch the trailer for Lola Versus.