It’s so good for awhile that I thought it was a chick flick classic. Lola Versus got me bummed out eventually by watching the title character make a very bad mistake. But it’s a real mistake young adults often make: Don’t hang-out with your ex. It stunts your growth and deters away from self-recognition of one’s individual needs, as well as inhibits the ability to start from scratch in finding a new compatible partner. Greta Gerwig (“Greenberg”) is our heroine, newly 30 years old, and within a few short scenes gets dumped by her fiancé just weeks before the wedding.
“I’m a slut, but I’m really a good person!” wails Lola, crying to New York for sympathy. This is one of those movies where the girl sleeps with a new guy on the first date, over and over, until she sees her own destructive pattern. She elicits for pity sex from dweeby Henry (Hamish Linklater, a character-actor on the rise), who is the best friend of her former fiancé. When you booze on a late weekend night, one can use the alcohol as an excuse for falling into another’s arms.
It’s not long after she actually sleeps with her ex again (Joel Kinnaman, good-looking but shallow). You see, Luke the ex is one of these guys that can’t bear to be the bad guy to any woman, so even though he dumped Lola, he will do anything for sex and anything that boosts his status to Alpha Man hero. “Just don’t hate me,” must be this guy’s mantra.
Debra Winger and Bill Pullman also appear as Lola’s parents, offering advice that is sometimes wise, but often ignored. Zoe Lister-Jones plays Alice, best friend to Lola, and her dialogue demonstrates a zingy Sarah Silverman caberet hip-attitude. Then there is Jay Pharaoh the top-notch impersonator from “SNL,” who has like three scenes, all of them pleasant. We’re glad they are all here. The secondary cast meshes well with Lola, and their personalities are just as involving.
Ebullient pacing keeps us buzzed, very aware, very concerned even. Lola goes through the obligatory depression dumps, yet the movie has a sprite contemporary New York look, and you feel the city’s busy-body energy. Give the movie a chance, and I think you will find it fresh and fashionable, insightful and relevant.
Lola goes on girls-night-outs again, but even with friends by her side, she is one of those that needs to be validated by a guy. And so to please him, there must be sex. She is not attracted to the annoying yuppy guy who sings along to Ani DiFranco, but she goes to bed with him anyway. And one glance at his member when he removes his underwear prompts her to snigger with anxious laughter. She wants out of there, but she stays because she feels she owes him courtesy. She mistakes courtesy as an equal to sex.
I know, how does this movie manage to call itself a comedy? But it’s really funny, or awfully funny you could say. And it’s so real and grown-up and perceptive that I can’t help feel that it’s anything but an essential chick flick – because it can easily be relatable. Gerwig is endearing and winsome, even when she’s selling herself short, and we enjoy watching her mature on her journey towards self-reliant single woman. I also appreciated her philosophies on “silence” in a modern age where Twitter and cell phones prohibit one from silence, and self-reflection. Smart girl, just confused.
89 Minutes. Rated R.
COMEDY / ADULT ORIENTATION / SATURDAY NIGHT SLUMBER PARTY MOVIE
Film Cousins: “An Unmarried Woman” (1978); “True Love” (1989); “In Her Shoes” (2005); “Waitress” (2007).
Official website: click here.