By Jessica Delfanti | June 18, 2012
Director: Daryl Wein
Writers: Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister Jones
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Zoe Lister Jones, Hamish Linklater, Joel Kinnaman
Over the last year, talk of the female-driven film has been so ubiquitous that one might expect female leads in every blockbuster. However, in the collection of female led films, there are very few that access an authentic feminine experience. Writer/Director Daryl Wein’s Lola Versus accomplishes this with a cheeky, unique view at how hard it can be just being a girl in the modern world.In the titular role, Greta Gerwig plays the 29 year old Lola, who, dumped by her fiance (Joel Kinnaman) weeks before her wedding, is forced to come to terms with herself and her position in the world. Gerwig is a helping of Chloe Sevigny with a splash of Liz Lemon, and her Lola is a character that many women will identify with: at times vulnerable, selfish, and socially clueless, she still manages to appear endearing, well-meaning, and hopefully lost.
Lola is assisted and hindered by her two closest friends, Henry (Hamish Linklater) and Alice (co-screenwriter Zoe Lister Jones). Linklater is a charming take on the archetypal friend-becomes-love-interest that viewers will know well from less creative romantic comedies; his Henry is familiar and complicated, and unwilling to sacrifice his mental wellbeing for friendship or romance. In turn, Lister Jones steals every scene she’s in with fast dialogue and oddball one liners. Her friendship with Lola is one of the more interesting and realistic ones seen on screen since last summer’s “sismance” craze.
With such a small cast, the audience has the impression of gaining access to an individual’s personal interactions on an intimate level. We can see Lola making strides toward progress, and tripping into ditches of reversion, and most of it feels genuine. Strikingly, the film allows Lola to behave like a normal human: she at turns severely hurts her friends, makes horrible choices, and indulges in tragic self-pity. The real charm of the film, then, is that it does so without judging her for it, recognizing the normality of well-meaning mistakes that individuals make while trying to piece together their identities.
While Lola Versus may not be big scale commentary, or communicate universal values, it is an honest portrayal of the sometimes brutality of being a not quite perfect girl in the not so perfect world. By the end of the film, we feel well acquainted with Lola, and pleased with her real-world conclusions that may not leave her lost in romantic bliss, but instead chart a new course toward independent happiness. At least this story’s got the kind of happy ending we can believe.