out of Five
Running time: 87
Enjoyable relationship comedy that commendably avoids some of the usual clichés and succeeds thanks to Greta Gerwig's natural charisma, even if her character is occasionally irritating and the film is sometimes let down by dodgy dialogue.
What's it all about?
Co-written (with co-star Zoe Lister Jones) and directed by Daryl Wein, Lola Versus stars Greta Gerwig as Lola, a 29 year old New Yorker whose life is thrown into confusion when she gets dumped by her seemingly perfect fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman), three weeks before their wedding.
With the aid of her sarcastic best friend Alice (Lister Jones) and cute male best buddy Henry (Hamish Linklater), not to mention less than welcome advice from her trying-to-be-hip parents (Bill Pullman and Debra Winger), Lola tries to get back on her feet but she finds herself increasingly torn between being unable to let go of her feelings for Luke and a developing crush on Henry.
Greta Gerwig is immensely likeable on screen and has charisma to burn, which is just as well, because Lola indulges in some pretty unsympathetic behaviour over the course of 87 minutes and her character is occasionally irritating, to the point where you kind of want to shout at her a little bit. There's also strong comic support from Zoe Lister Jones (cunningly co-writing herself all the best lines), while Linklater is good as the conflicted friend to both Zoe and Luke and there's an amusing turn from Ebon Moss-Bachrach as a would-be suitor who picks Lola up at the fish counter in a deli.
For the most part, this is indie-by-numbers stuff and it particularly suffers in comparison to Lena Dunham's terrific HBO TV series Girls (highly recommended when it eventually gets a showing over here), which covers a lot of the same ground in much darker and funnier ways. However, it deserves praise for its commendable avoidance of some of the usual clichés associated with this sort of thing, particularly in the final act.
The main problem with the film is the dialogue, which tends to be a little patchy in places and stumbles when it comes to the supposedly emotional moments, particularly the speeches (though there are, as mentioned, some great lines, Alice's speech about having learned all about women from 90210 being a notable highlight). It's also the kind of comedy that's consistently gently amusing rather than laugh-out-loud funny and there are a few moments that fall painfully flat.
Lola Versus is a watchable relationship comedy that gets by on the strength of Greta Gerwig's all-powerful screen charisma and a script that manages to avoid the usual romcom pitfalls, even if the dialogue occasionally falters and it’s not quite as funny as it thinks it is.