I’m not familiar with Greta Gerwig’s long list of films. She began her career making micro-budgeted indies with the likes of Joe Swanberg and the Duplass brothers and has made 13 feature films since her debut in 2006. Before 2011, when she began to appear in mainstream fare like No Strings Attached and Arthur, she gained some of her best press co-starring in Noah Baumbach’s Greenburg alongside Ben Stiller. 2012 has been quite a year for Gerwig. She starred in Whit Stillman’s long awaited return, Damsels in Distress, had a role in Woody Allen’s latest ensemble comedy, To Rome With Love, and played the lead role in this film. I think that Lola Versus is the crowning achievement of her year.
Lola Versus is a quirky independent movie that may not be the perfect, but it’s pretty damn funny, making it well worth checking out. Directed by Daryl Wein and written by Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones (star of the wonderful Stuck Between Stations), this poignant, romantic film focuses on Gerwig’s Lola, a New York English grad student whose life goes through an upheaval just as she approaching her thirtieth birthday. Fucking things up for Lola is her fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman), who decides just three weeks before their wedding that he isn’t prepared to settle down. You can imagine how anyone would take such news, especially a woman who seems so dependent on her boyfriend. Suddenly in need of an apartment and a job, Lola begins soul searching and doesn’t like what she finds.
Accompanying her on her journey are her best friend, love starved actress Alice, who is played with bluntness by Lister-Jones, and their friend Henry (Hamish Linklater). Complicating matters is the fact that Henry is Luke’s best friend, but he has feelings for Lola. Lola develops her own feelings for Henry, but are they honest or just rebound love? Furthermore, Luke stays in Lola’s orbit, as he doesn’t understand why he and Lola can’t remain friends. After all, just because he called off the wedding doesn’t mean he stopped caring for her. Offering sage, hippie advice to Lola are her parents, played by a shaggy haired Bill Pullman and an always welcome Debra Winger.
Each actor is wonderful and they all have several moments throughout the film to shine and be funny. Of the supporting cast, Lister-Jones really attacks her role with gusto. However, it’s Gerwig’s star making performance that will keep you watching, even when the film hits a couple of weak moments. Gerwig not only hasthe depth to make you cry along with Lola, but she proves to be an excellent physical actress, pulling off two or three pratfalls that seem to come out of nowhere and create belly laughs. As I said, I am not aware of Gerwig’s catalog of films, but after watching Lola Versus, I am going to look up some of her past work. Several of her smaller films are streaming on Netflix, the perfect way to explore independent films.
Wein’s direction is solid and he has crafter a lovely picture that captures New York in all its beauty. The music, by Fall On Your Sword, is your typical folkie/indie music that seems to appear in almost all low budget films, nothing very exciting. The only strike against Lola Versus is that it loses steam in places and there seems to be some sequences that were edited into the final picture as filler. At just 89 minutes, the film is already a brisk ride. This is just my own criticism; I’m sure there are many of you who will think Lola Versus is perfect the way it is. Either way, I highly recommend the movie for anyone looking for something a little different for date night.