By Don Simpson | July 2, 2012
Director: Daryl Wein
Writers: Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister-Jones
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Joel Kinnaman, Zoe Lister-Jones, Hamish Linklater, Bill Pullman, Debra Winger
From personal experience, I can say that there are few things more devastating than having a fiancee break up with you, especially when she/he was the one who initially pitched the idea of marriage in the first place. (It is kind of like the Charlie Brown and Lucy Van Pelt football gag, but much less comical.) And while my recovery did not consist of sleeping on the floor of a friend’s apartment, sustaining myself on chips and kombucha, Lola (Greta Gerwig) otherwise channels a lot of the recovery process that I went through.
The main difference — other than our respective genders — is that as soon as Lola is able to get up off of that floor, she jumps right back into the dating scene. She is understandably reluctant to do this, but her ever-doting parents (Bill Pullman and Debra Winger) and friends convince her to hop back in the saddle. Lola is only 29-years old (nonetheless Lola’s mother pleads with her to freeze her eggs) and Luke (Joel Kinnaman) was her first and only love, so it makes sense that Lola wants to play the field for a while. Unfortunately, Lola makes a few bad decisions in the realm of dating, including jumping in the sack with an over-endowed man (he was an incubator baby!) who refuses to wrap his humongous tool (but it is okay, he was just recently tested).
It takes a year (the entire length of the film) before Lola discovers the true answer to recovering from a heart-crushing break-up. In order to avoid spoilers, I will just say that it’s a not-so-traditional happy ending. To be honest, my loving or hating Lola Versus hinged greatly upon the film’s conclusion. Luckily, writer-director Daryl Wein sticks the ending with the grace of a gymnast.
That is not to say that the film is perfect… Lola’s oh-so-privileged lifestyle might irk those of us who attempted to live in New York City but failed miserably due to the high cost of living. (Okay, I will give Lola some credit since she does work part-time as a waitress in her mother’s bar, while working on her dissertation.) Also, as a card-carrying member of Team Greta, I find it pretty difficult to believe that someone with Lola’s natural beauty and quirky personality would have such a difficult time dating. Heck, at one point she even finds herself completely friendless. That just seems so absurd to me, because how could everyone not love Lola?
I also find it difficult to understand what Lola sees in Luke — but that is mainly because his character does not get any opportunity for development. Luke ends up coming off as frigid and egotistical. From what we come to learn of Lola’s best friend, Henry (Hamish Linklater), he seems so perfectly sweet for Lola. (Really, who would not want to see Greta Gerwig and Hamish Linklater as a couple? If I can’t marry Gerwig, Linklater would be my first choice for her.) Wein and co-writer Zoe Lister-Jones acknowledge this chemistry, and they toy with the idea of putting Lola and Henry together; but destiny has a significantly less logical mate in store for Henry, someone with whom he seems to share no chemistry whatsoever.
While Gerwig and Linklater are given the only multidimensional characters, Zoe Lister-Jones’ Alice is awarded the best dialogue of the film (which says a lot since Lola Versus is chock full of fantastic dialogue). As Lola’s female best friend, Alice plays the comic relief. Alice is the snarky one, the bitter realist, the one who tirelessly tries to keep Lola grounded. The casting of the triumvirate of Gerwig, Linklater and Lister-Jones is nothing short of genius. All three actors get to play off of their strengths, allowing them to knock their characterizations out of the park.