LOLA VERSUS (2012)
Running Time: 87 mins. Rating: 3 Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Daryl Wein
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Cast: Greta Gerwig, Zoe Lister Jones, Hamish Linklater, Bill Pullman, Debra Winger, Cheyenne Jackson, Jay Pharaoh, Joel Kinnaman, Ebon Moss-Bachrach
If you’ve ever been dumped (meaning if you’re not a hermit living in a cave in Afghanistan) you already have a “hook” through which you can approach this romantic comedy. Filmed by Swedish cinematographer Jakob Ihre in various New York City neighborhoods including my own area of DUMBO, this urban story involving people who are comfortably middle class and of artistic bent could be mistaken for a Woody Allen project. What’s more its’ star, the lovable Greta Gerwig, will appear in Mr. Allen’s upcoming movie TO ROME WITH LOVE, opening June 22nd.
Ms. Gerwig, fresh from her role in DAMSELS IN DISTRESS (about a trio of girls determined to change the male-dominated ambiance of a leafy college), appears in virtually every scene, with emotions ranging from happy, to content to tearfully depressed. At no point do we in the audience lose sympathy for her plight notwithstanding the way she’s so into herself that she cannot think of anything but how to deal with being discarded by her significant other three weeks before the wedding.
What do you do in such a case? There are two contradictory reactions. One is to spend your days crouched in a fetal position, resisting nutrition and sunlight. The other is to rebound, to look for guys to assure yourself that you’re still desirable. Since the first position is not too cinematic, LOLA VERSUS opts for a merry-go-roundalay, with the emphasis on the last syllable.
The title character (Greta Gerwig) gets advice from her kooky friend, Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones, who also co-wrote), from her hippie parents Lenny (Bill Pullman whose thick mop of hair couldn’t be real, could it?) and Robin (Debra Winger, who has not aged in the last ten years). She takes counsel from her long-term platonic friend, Henry (Hamish Linklater), who seems available all hours of the day and who obviously has a crush on her, which seems unrequited. She listens occasionally to the last person she should trust, her ex-fiancé, Luke (played by Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman), who turns up at odd times at parties, in a college courtyard where Lola is pursuing a doctorate, and who has apparently re-thought his action and is now ready for commitment. She has a one-night stand with Nick (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), a “prison architect” with a fantastic apartment, in some ways ideal (thinks Alice) as a man who actually likes to cook.
There is a difference between a typical Woody Allen pic and this one: LOLA VERSUS indulges in the anomie of the young—and 29, however much mom thinks it’s time for her daughter to freeze her eggs, is young. Allen’s comedies and dramas cover a broad range of mostly mature people. Aside from the off-putting Alice, whose erratic actions make Lola’s seem grown-up, LOLA VERSUS is filled with people you might want to share a beer with notwithstanding their self-absorption, in one of New York’s hip joints or outdoor treasures on prominent display.
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