Daryl Wein’s indie romantic comedy Lola Versus is just as much about finding love in yourself as it is finding love in others. The film attempts to give a unique perspective on the genre by telling it from an unapologetic single woman’s point of view, but it does not fully succeed. Thankfully, terrific performances from the lead (most of the supporting roles) saved the film from falling completely flat.
Lola (Greta Gerwig) just turned 29 years-old and according to her astrology book, it is the year that Saturn returns to the location it was when she was born. Now she expects her whole world to turn upside down (figuratively and astronomically). But she is reluctant that her life needs changing even though she understands that change is inevitable.
The film wastes no time getting to a monumental change in Lola’s life when her boyfriend Luke (Joel Kinnaman) proposes to her. As happy as she can be she replies, yes. Lola and Luke begin to plan out the wedding. But just as quickly it began, Lola returns home one day to discover that Luke no longer wants to get married. It is not revealed why Luke suddenly has a change of heart but Lola obviously takes the news incredibly hard. It was as if someone pulled the rug out from under her feet.
As Lola hits rock bottom, she relies on her friends to pick her back up. Her best friend Alice (Zoe Lister Jones) offers her shoulder for Lola to cry on. And so does Henry (Hamish Linklater), who is awkwardly stuck in the middle because he is friends with both Lola and Luke. Her parents also offer their support and comfort her as much as they can.
You could see it coming a mile away that eventually the platonic relationship between Lola and Henry would soon change. And it does. He was there for her when she needed someone and now she cannot let go. It is a realistic situation but one that we all know what the outcome will be.
The relationship turns from strictly friends to more when Lola asks if Henry will spend the night. She explains the reason for this is that nights are hard for her now that she is alone. While that may be true, there is definitely more to it than that. When things continue to get worse for Lola, she uses Henry as an answer to her problems.
Lola’s life is just as confusing to herself as it is to the viewer. Often, it is easier to see answers to other people’s problems than your own, but in the case of Lola, it was just as difficult. Part of this is due to the fact that sometimes life does not make sense; you do things that you know you should not. However, part of not understanding her character is obviously a fault of the film.
The beginning of Lola Versus felt completely rushed as if they were forced to stay within a 90 minute runtime (which it barely does). The drawback of that is not getting to know the characters and who they really were. Because the audience feels little attachment to characters, it is hard to care about when her heart-breaks over Luke. The fact they were all of a sudden getting married, then breaking up in the next scene, did not help matters either.
Also it did not help that Joel Kinnaman was so rigid in his role as Luke. Not only that, but his dull lines and personality made it was almost hard to bear. Fortunately, the rest of the cast all had noteworthy performances. Greta Gerwig handled the lead role with grace and received great support from both Hamish Linklater and Zoe Lister Jones.
There were times that Lola Versus veered off the predictable path of romantic comedy, but unfortunately they were very brief. It largely remained a generic rom-com with some head scratching dialog and situations. This film falls victim to having the cast try to carry a mediocre-at-best script, which ends up being a suicide mission for everyone involved.