Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: Joaquin Phoenix Gets His Stoner Detective Groove On In Trailer For Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice’ Watch: Joaquin Phoenix Gets His Stoner Detective Groove On In Trailer For Paul Thomas Anderson’s ‘Inherent Vice’ David Fincher Will Direct The Entire First Season Of HBO's 'Utopia' In 2015 David Fincher Will Direct The Entire First Season Of HBO's 'Utopia' In 2015 Brad Pitt Says 'Fury' Co-Star Shia LaBeouf Is "One Of The Best Actors I've Ever Seen" Brad Pitt Says 'Fury' Co-Star Shia LaBeouf Is "One Of The Best Actors I've Ever Seen" First Look: Kristen Stewart & Nicholas Hoult In Drake Doremus’ Sci-Fi Film ‘Equals’ First Look: Kristen Stewart & Nicholas Hoult In Drake Doremus’ Sci-Fi Film ‘Equals’ John Cusack Says Hollywood Is A "Whorehouse" That "Eats Young Actors Up And Spits Them Out" John Cusack Says Hollywood Is A "Whorehouse" That "Eats Young Actors Up And Spits Them Out" New Image From 'Inherent Vice,' Paul Thomas Anderson Completely Changed The Ending From Thomas Pynchon's Book New Image From 'Inherent Vice,' Paul Thomas Anderson Completely Changed The Ending From Thomas Pynchon's Book Why 'You're The Worst' Turned Out To Be The Best TV Show Of The Summer Why 'You're The Worst' Turned Out To Be The Best TV Show Of The Summer Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody Watch: Ellen Page And Kate Mara Are 'Tiny Detectives' In Hilarious 'True Detective' Parody New Look: Reese Witherspoon And Joaquin Phoenix In Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice' New Look: Reese Witherspoon And Joaquin Phoenix In Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Inherent Vice' Review: David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens & More Review: David Fincher's 'Gone Girl' Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Kim Dickens & More 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood 10 Female Directors Who Deserve More Attention From Hollywood Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" Miles Teller Says Role In 'Divergent' Made Him Feel "Dead Inside," And He Took Movie "For Business Reasons" While You're Waiting For 'Interstellar,' Here's Over 100 Behind-The-Scenes Photos From 'The Dark Knight' Trilogy While You're Waiting For 'Interstellar,' Here's Over 100 Behind-The-Scenes Photos From 'The Dark Knight' Trilogy First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" First Look At 'The Dying Of The Light,' Paul Schrader Quits Film Over What Nicolas Winding Refn Calls "Artistic Disrespect" New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' New Images From 'Interstellar' Arrive, Christopher Nolan Says The Film Is A "Mirror" Of 'Inception' Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack Watch: Have A Threesome With Very NSFW Clip From 'Maps To The Stars' With Julianne Moore & John Cusack The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes

Review: Humor & Heartbreak Mix Unevenly In The Slight ‘Lola Versus’

The Playlist By The Playlist | The Playlist June 6, 2012 at 12:01PM

Employing a hybrid of smart and quippy comedic observations, a perceptive outlook on the complications of 20/30-something relationships in New York and genuine moments of heartache, the romantic comedy “Lola Versus” can’t seem to synthesize these elements into a fully satisfying experience by the end of its brief 89-minute running time.
0
Lola Versus Greta Gerwig Joel Kinnaman

Employing a hybrid of smart and quippy comedic observations, a perceptive outlook on the complications of 20/30-something relationships in New York and genuine moments of heartache, the romantic comedy “Lola Versus” can’t seem to synthesize these elements into a fully satisfying experience by the end of its brief 89-minute running time.

Part of the problem is a clipped and rushed tempo and the fact that while auspicious, well-shot and carefully written, “Lola Versus” is also surprisingly conventional, and fails on its promise of negotiating comedic romantic despair and legitimate amorous despair in any meaningful way that we haven't already seen onscreen.

Lola Versus

Written by Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones and directed by Wein (the creative pair who made a somewhat similar exploration of young love in “Breaking Upwards”), in “Lola Versus” Greta Gerwig plays the titular Lola, a 29-year-old woman dumped by her longtime boyfriend Luke (“The Killing” star Joel Kinnaman) just weeks before their wedding. Despondent and heartbroken, with the help of her BFFs Henry (Hamish Linklater) and Alice (Lister-Jones), Lola embarks on a succession of disastrous and distressed trysts in a desperate effort to find her place in the world as a single woman approaching 30.

While “Lola Versus” initially gives off shades of “Young Adult In New York,” presenting a self-absorbed, damaged woman who is her own worst enemy, and therefore hopefully giving sharp insights into her struggles like the recent Jason Reitman film (only featuring a younger character), Wein and Lister-Jones' screenplay comes across as a series of well-written scenes with amusing, observant dialogue, minus a coherent, emotional through-line.

Also distressing is how straight and predictable the story is played out. Luke leaves Lola because he needs space (pressures of the wedding), but ultimately, it just seems like this New York artist needs "space" (translation: monogamy can be frustrating). Gerwig’s Lola dabbles with falling for her best male friend Henry (that writing is on the wall after 20 minutes) and Lister-Jones’ character, while the comedic highlight of the film, essentially boils down to Megan Mullally’s Karen on “Will & Grace” or any “wacky” best friend on a sitcom who’s always spouting off at the mouth inappropriately. And in a film that hints at something deeper, all these formulaic elements grow increasingly disappointing as the picture becomes more and more unadventurous.

Lola Versus

The disheartening thing is that Wein and Lister-Jones are astute writers and the former has much more of a cinematic eye then one would expect from an indie filmmaker known for his talky, micro-budgeted indie films. Taken on their own, many of the musical montages in the dramedy can be rather poignant and striking. Slo-mo montage #1 set to pop music effectively communicates the visceral catharsis that dancing with abandon provides after emotional suffering. And silent and slo-mo montage #3 wistfully illustrates the wordless connection of lovers at play. Yet, when you're reaching the fourth or fifth exact instance of this technique in a 65-minute period, well, the method gets a little tired.

Shot with sunkissed photography seemingly set to make each sequence feel like a "New York, I Love You" moment, there's also something fabricated and inauthentic about the perfectly calibrated aesthetics in the scenes. Wein’s attention span for editing has always had a clipped rhythm to say the least, and in “Lola Versus” it borders on abrupt and schizophrenic as scenes jump from sequence to sequence with a jarring cadence. While there’s definitely some truth in the screenwriting and editing tenet that says, “arrive to the party late and leave early” with any scene, something could be said for letting a moment, an emotion, or a feeling just breathe. And taken holistically, this leaves many moments with the potential of being emotionally poignant, left feeling shallow and superficial.

Featuring a score by Fall On Your Sword (an LCD Soundsystem-offshoot who has scored films like "You Won't Miss Me," "Another Earth" and "Generation Um..." of late), the film is positively lacquered with wall-to-wall indie-rock and pop music, which at times becomes rather oppressive.

Ultimately, "Lola Versus" wants to have it both ways, amuse with its jokes about singledom, crazy single friends, the complications of dating so soon after breakups and truthfully express the pains of being young, broken hearted and co-dependent. But communicating ingenuous heartbreak (or anything relatively moving) is usually shortchanged in favor of jokes and keeping the narrative running at a breakneck pace, which robs the few affecting scenes of any lasting power. A nice conventional bow at the end of “Lola Versus” doesn’t help its case either.

Often enjoyable, but never truly fulfilling, “Lola Versus” is frequently funny, but at the end of the day slight. It’s also an above-average romantic comedy that ultimately falls for many of the formulaic trappings of mainstream rom-coms and even at times, sitcoms, that may leave more discerning audiences feeling disillusioned. This writer for one would say you’re better off with HBO’s “Girls” if you want a sharper and more fulfilling take on the 20-something female experience in New York. [C+]

This is a reprint of our review from the Tribeca Film Festival.

This article is related to: Lola Versus, Review, Greta Gerwig, Joel Kinnaman


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates