- Last Updated: 11:22 AM, June 8, 2012
- Posted: 10:06 PM, June 7, 2012
Quirking girl. Running time: 86 minutes. Rated R (nudity, language, sexual situations, drug use). At the Lincoln Square, Loews Village 7.
On the surface, the amusing and occasionally insightful “Lola Versus” is about a young New Yorker (Greta Gerwig) on the verge of turning 30 who’s unceremoniously dumped by her fiancé shortly before their wedding.
But what it’s stealthily about, I think, is the sidekick-ification of the singleton. As Lola’s best friend Alice, the engaging Zoe Lister-Jones (also co-screenwriter, with director Daryl Wein) is always available with a quip, an uplifting mantra or ice cream, ready to both soothe and stoke Lola’s fears about plunging into the deep dark pit of the dating world. (Exhibit A: Alice’s Match.com user name is “LetMeBeYourHole_1,” as the original is taken.)
A struggling actor, presumably with some sort of day job, Alice is reliably ready to come running when Lola has a breakdown — which is often — and to meet up with her after a romantic hookup to analyze and reassure. How do these people stay employed? Or sane?
But I digress. At the outset, we find grad student Lola blissfully engaged to painter Luke (reedy Joel Kinnaman, who seems too insubstantial for a relatively normal-size woman like Gerwig). She’s completely blindsided when he calls it off.
Uncoupled not only from Luke, but from her vision of her own future, the likably awkward Lola drifts from immobilizing depression to whiskey-fueled dalliances with Luke’s best friend Henry (Hamish Linklater), who’s always carried a torch for her, and a comically creepy Rollerblader named Nick (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), who turns out to be rather overendowed: “I was an incubator baby,” he says, enigmatically, by way of apology.
As Lola’s bohemian parents, Bill Pullman and Debra Winger have little to do beyond dispensing outdated advice, and Jay Pharoah of “SNL” appears just often enough at Lola’s waitressing job to qualify as the Black Friend. (“I’m the Black Friend,” he actually says, so I guess points for screenwriting self-awareness, but not many.)
“Lola Versus,” like Lena Dunham’s show “Girls,” brings an indie perspective and cast to this mainstream genre. In the more limited medium of film, this is a mixed bag: you get noncookie-cutter people like Gerwig as romantic leads, but you also have to watch them utter insipid lines like “My world is shattered, and I’m power-eating.” Gerwig can act the hell out of a trying-on-clothes montage, but it’s still just that.
Lister-Jones, whose character should get her own sequel, functions as a sort of Greek chorus of jaded self-reliance until she finds a little romance of her own — incurring the indignant wrath of Lola, who’s annoyed to see a supporting player in the movie of her life attempting to take center stage.
It’s in this way that “Lola Versus” — intentionally or not — transcends being just another chick flick and becomes an exploration of a subject that should ring true for just about every female viewer: the relentless narcissism of the friend who makes everything about her.