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Friday, September 7, 2012

Lola Versus Review

Fox Searchlight

Lola Versus Review
2012, 87 minutes
Rated R for language, sexuality, and drug use

Lola Versus is pretty bad.  Starring the always-reliable Greta Gerwig (Damsels in Distress, Greenberg), the film follows a 29-year-old woman, Lola, whose life falls apart after her fiancé breaks up with her weeks before their wedding.  Sound familiar?  If it does (and it should), it is.  We have heard this story 100 times, and to make things worse, writers Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister Jones use every cliché in the book to tell this already boring story.  They include the best friend who the main character is secretly in love with, the cheery and offbeat parents, and the foul-mouthed best friend.  It is as if Wein and Jones took pieces of every good and bad romantic comedy and just mashed them together poorly to create this one.

Thinking about everything that didn't work with this film, I realized that everything goes back to the screenplay.  One of the biggest flaws of all is that there is no character arch for the character of Lola.  The "change" that happens to Lola just comes out of nowhere with no motivation.  And, as some friends pointed out, the change that occurs isn't even good (even though it is portrayed as heroic in the film).

This movie wants to think that it is fresh, original, and hip.  It is none of these.  Lola Versus wants to use every "hip" phrase it can and tries to make Lola relatable by having her constantly eat at organic food stands and hang out with her friends.  For starters, Lola isn't relatable especially because she isn't a likable character.  Her constant complaining and moping gets old fast.  From the minute the movie starts, the character of Lola has nothing interesting or distinctive about her, and when her fiancé breaks off the engagement, she just whines, sleeps around, and eats for the rest of the movie.

Another issue with the movie is that it tries to be an independent film.  It has hand-held camerawork in certain scenes that simply looks ridiculous and it attempts to use some sort of ineffective quirky humor.  The best independent films (Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, and Beasts of the Southern Wild come to mind) are great because they don't try to be independent films.  They are naturally artistic and brilliant.  Lola Versus comes across as an imitation of films like these and tries too hard for the natural style that the aforementioned films possess.  

Though the screenplay fails on all levels (except for a laugh here or there), the actors all do a good job.  Greta Gerwig, an actress whose work I have really enjoyed ever since seeing her in 2010's Greenberg, does.  She is very believable and has a very charming screen presence.  She, not Lola, manages to be likable and enjoyable to watch, but the horrible character that she plays overpowers her charms.

Overall, Lola Versus isn't the worst film that I have seen this year, but it is one of the worst.  It isn't a complete disaster, but no way would I ever recommend that you see this garbage.  

-Joshua Handler

1 comment:

  1. Joshua, I completely agree! As a feminist, I expected to see so much more than just the tired "Maybe you can be happy...while still being single?" message that Hollywood has been trying to pass off as edgy critique lately, and when I saw the traditional "woman is rejected, deals by eating, getting drunk and bitching at her friends" routine, coupled with her friend's antics, it made me genuinely angry at how this hack director seems to view women. I was made angrier still by how the film co-opted indie film technique to make this piece of generic, safe, status-quo Hollywood fare seem like it would have something new to say. Needless to say, I didn't stay for the Q and A. Spot on.