I suppose you need to be in a New York state of mind to enjoy Lola Versus, but, Philistine that I am, I just could not pull it off. I also know exactly what many of the smug, self-styled intellectual reviewers are going to write and say about this film. That it’s smart, quirky, snappy, gritty, real and funny.
Don’t believe any of that.
Lola Versus is nothing but a series of unrelated sentences that seeks to substitute for a coherent script; a junk drawer full of supposedly wry and witty bon mots desperately in search of a plot, written by someone with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Even more depressing, the whole enterprise is just shy of 90 minutes, yet feels like four hours in the theater.
It seemingly wants to be as clever as “Juno,” but does not want to work for it (it’s also handicapped because it has neither the intelligence, charm or talent featured in that film). In fact, it’s not even on par with the low-rent “(500) Days of Summer,” the next picture on the “will-I-ever-find-true-love-again” bandwagon.
Lola Versus is the follow-up to writer/director team Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones’ “Breaking Upwards.” In that immature film, the filmmakers attempted to use conventional rom-com figures of speech to jumpstart conversations that ultimately went nowhere. For this latest go round, there is twice as much jargon filled banter.
Talent-wise, there isn’t much to work with to make the dialogue passable either. We get mid-level actors such as Greta Gerwig (“No Strings Attached“), Joel Kinnaman (“Safe House“), Hamish Linklater (“Battleship“), Lister-Jones (“The Other Guys“) and Ebon Moss-Bachrach (“The Lake House“). Oh sure, we also see veterans Bill Pullman (whose last significant work was “Rio Sex Comedy“) and Academy Award-nominated (for “An Officer and a Gentleman” and “Terms of Endearment“) actress, Debra Winger; both are wasted, though, as a terminally high father and nagging mother, respectively.
Here, Gerwig plays the eponymous character — the shallow, annoying, promiscuous and completely self-absorbed 29-year old New Yorker that has one of those New York existences that exist only in movies like this. She lives in a perfect, rent-controlled apartment and is engaged to uber stud, Luke (Kinnaman). It seems to be a match made in Heaven, until a chronic case of cold feet causes him to dump her three weeks before the wedding.
This can happen. I personally know of a situation similar, but no one is going to put THAT up on the big screen. Lola takes it hard — very hard. She sleeps for what seems like months (only waking to eat a few potato chips and wallow in self-pity, much like the audience). Later, her friend, Alice (Jones), tries to console her by taking her to singles bars and getting her wasted at private parties.
Her thanks for trying to help? Lola pays her back by sleeping with Alice’s on-again, off-again boyfriend, Henry (Linklater), who plays in the world’s lamest band and is so sensitive that he seems to be trapped in a woman’s body. You can’t keep a free woman down though, as Lola then beds Nick Oyster (Moss-Bachrach), an idiotic, but well-endowed fish salesman. In fact, Lola has baseless, passionless, meaningless intercourse so many times; it frankly becomes as irritating as Gerwig’s empty, one-note performance.
It isn’t saying much, but Lister-Jones, who is equally bothersome most of the time (although a bit less self-centered as Lola), is probably the best thing about Lola Versus. It’s sad that while she steals every scene she’s in, it’s all petty larceny in the end. None of the other characters even approach empathy, chemistry or believability.
All the while the writing tandem attempts to connect with its youthful, plugged in viewers by name-dropping such entities as Facebook, match.com and Yelp!. They spoil everything, however, by practically waving their hands about frantically and shouting, “Hey! We’re smarter than all of you! This movie is what life, love and finally growing up is really all about!”
As previously written, don’t believe that for a minute.