Floundering rom-com that lacks punch
Despite the combative title, which suggests a film with attitude, Lola Versus is a rom-com so lacking in fizz and confidence it’s virtually apologising for its own existence. Directed and co-written by Daryl Wein (Breaking Upwards) it stars former mumblecore queen bee, Greta Gerwig (Greenberg, Damsels in Distress), who’s dependably delightful as the titular Lola.
The film whips through Lola’s romantic devastation over the credits. Blissfully happy at the outset, her life is thrown into disarray when her long-term sweetheart Luke (Joel Kinnaman) cancels their wedding with weeks to go; the advancing milestone of 30 now represents an uncertain future. We follow Lola through her ensuing funk and inevitable screw ups. Co-writer Zoe Lister Jones features in the role of Lola’s chaotic actress friend Alice, who’s resigned to singledom.
Like the superior Tiny Furniture, Lola Versus reveals itself to be less concerned with modern love than the adventures of someone who suddenly finds themselves with room to make mistakes. It’s not particularly romantic then and unfortunately, neither is it much of a comedy – one hilarious hook-up with a prison architect and fish fanatic aside. Wein’s film also lacks the dramatic chops to explore Lola’s crisis and what could have been a showcase for the charismatic Gerwig largely falls flat, with the supporting cast left standing helplessly by (including an underused Bill Pullman and Debra Winger as Lola’s parents). On the other hand Lola Versus dodges sentimentality and Gerwig and co ensure that it’s likable in part. Overall though there’s a distinct lack of individuality and insight and, appositely enough, if Lola Versus is about a woman floundering, as a film it can be accused of the same.
Selected release from Fri 20 Jul.