Movie Review: 'Lola Versus' (2012)

"Lola Versus" is a treasure trove of goodness,  starring indie darling and Noah Baumbach muse Greta Gerwig and rising star Joel Kinnaman. This quirky independent neo-romantic comedy follows the title character Lola (Greta Gerwig). As she tries to make sense of her fiancรฉe’s last minute decision to pull the plug on their wedding and subsequent engagement. To assist her are her two devoted friends (Zoe Lister Jones and Hamish Linklater) and new-age parents (Diane Winger and Bill Pullman).

Lola’s misadventures are honest and she is written so earnestly that it feels like you’re watching the vulnerable moments of your best friend. She isn’t perfect. She’s just a real woman, flaws and all. While the film seems influenced by Woody Allen, they manage to carve out something that is original in its own right. You never know how this story is going to shake out.

It isn’t your standard, formulaic rom-com. You know the ones, where the underappreciated best guy friend and the lead female who “never thought of him that way” automatically end up together. Nor is the best friend a bitter woman putting down the male gender or the ex of said lead character constantly.

The film manages the feeling that you just stepped into a very awkward situation and everyone involved is only human, trying to get through it the best they can. While, they do explore some self-help ideas, don’t be frightened, this isn’t another "Eat, Pray, Love". 

It would’ve been nice to have clearer answers on some of the plot developments and motivations that ensue because they aren’t completely explained. By the same token, that’s also what contributes to the authenticity of the material because in life, answers are often hard to come by.

The biggest fantasy that movies ever perpetuated is that you can learn the reasons behind every plot twist that occurs in life. While some have decried this film as a lament from the hipster culture, it is not the obnoxious propaganda that "When Harry Met Sally" was for preppies. "When Harry Met Sally" has the dubious honor of being one of the most self-important and pretentious films ever made, in my most humble opinion.

Greta Gerwig gives a charming performance as the quirky Lola. She is equal parts self-aware, optimistic, and funny. She isn’t funny in a way that comes across desperate for a laugh. Her reaction to the crazy behavior around her is what makes it amusing. She also demonstrates some raw charisma. You want her to get a happy ending and Lola doesn’t about obtaining a traditional happiness the way most viewers will necessarily find appealing.

Joel Kinnaman, who you will typically see in brooding roles, takes an opposite direction in this. He is playing a normal guy and as simple as that may sound, it is a radical choice for an actor who usually brings in a lot of dark layers to his portrayals, it is a telling sign of great range as all of those emotions are completely absent here.

Rounding out the cast is Zoe Lister Jones as Lola’s best friend, Alice, and Hamish Linklater as Greta’s best guy friend, Henry. Lister Jones who co-wrote the screenplay, doesn’t give herself a flashy role, rather a neurotically fun one as Lola’s female buddy searching for love. Linklater plays the best guy friend archetype from so many rom-com’s past and yet he delivers something uniquely entertaining to the part.

So in close, if you would like to see a movie on a Saturday night that is light and takes your mind on a refreshing journey of self-discovery, check out "Lola Versus". You might be surprised. The film’s originality and lack of paint-by-the-numbers storytelling is a refreshing dissent from what has brought the romantic-comedy genre to a stand-still in recent years. Rating: 7.3/10