Anyone that has experienced a break-up can account for the emotional toll it takes on you and your loved ones. Whether you find yourself lying on the floor eating stale potato chips or in bed with a stranger, everyone has a different a coping mechanism. “Lola Versus” organically portrays the post-break-up stages of grief, providing a fresh perspective on the disintegration of two likeable and compatible individuals.
Lola (Greta Gerwig, “No Strings Attached”) and Luke (Joel Kinnaman, TV’s “The Killing”) seem to have the perfect relationship (he cooks for her!), having dated since meeting abroad during their junior year of college. Now in their late 20’s, the two have committed themselves to the sacred path of marriage, pledging to spend the rest of their lives together.
But when her fiancé ends their engagement out of the blue just three weeks before the wedding, Lola is distraught. Unable to coherently pick up the pieces to her life, she turns to her friends, sensitive Henry (Hamish Linklater, “Battleship”) and no-nonsense Alice (co-writer Zoe Lister-Jones, “Salt”), for moral support.
Entering the dating scene again nearing the big 3-0 is a daunting task, and Lola only does so reluctantly. What follows are the expected missteps on the road to rebirth: junk food in three-day-old underwear, one-night stands and lots of alcohol-induced bad decisions. While this subject is not entirely authentic, the film’s approach and Gerwig’s performance render it worthy of viewing. “I’m slutty, but I’m a good person!” Lola declares, painting the single-at-age-30-experience perfectly in a single line.
Filmmaking duo Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones create a 360-degree angle on the relationship, providing an often-unseen point of view for the typical romantic-comedy scapegoat: the ex. Kinnaman’s Luke has depth, and we are made aware that he cares deeply for Lola. Where the generic formula would normally paint him as the villain, “Lola Versus” shows us that there really are two sides to every story.
Similarly, “Lola Versus” treads the line between generic and unconventional with relative ease, relying on the charisma of Gerwig and the natural chemistry between the secondary cast members. Though we only drop in on Lola’s world for 90 minutes, the characters are so relatable that their journey folds seamlessly into ours.
Some of Lister-Jones’ acting is over-the-top, but she adequately fills the role of that eccentric friend that everyone secretly wishes they had. Linklater easily blends vulnerability and sincere sweetness in the role of Lola’s best friend-and-brief lover. This excellent acting is complimentary to a well-written script by Wein and Lister-Jones that depicts the difficulty of moving on from an ex with sincerity and authenticity.
Where “Lola Versus” could have easily veered into problematic, stereotypical territory, it instead navigated itself flawlessly into one of the freshest takes on the romantic-comedy genre seen in awhile.