One year shy of turning 30, Lola is content: she has a gorgeous hunk of a fiancé, a great apartment in NYC thanks to said beau, two hippie parents, and a pair of quirky friends. When her gorgeous, successful almost-husband dumps her, however, Lola is lost, and has no idea who she really is or where she is going. Just like the movie.
Everything is promising for Lola herself and the first five minutes of Lola Versus, written and directed by Daryl Wein, but when her relationship falls about, she goes on a meandering journey that is more something out of Alice in Wonderland except it’s not that interesting. That is, everyone in the film is a caricature, spouting one-line relationship advice and picking little fights just so they can appear deep.
Greta Gerwig carries the film as the titular damsel, a not-so dissimilar role she played recently in Damsels in Distress, another film in which her once confident character goes into a tailspin, and another film that greatly underutilizes her talents. Zoe Lister Jones plays Lola’s best friend Alice, a character that is quirky for the sake of quirky. She makes faces starring through a restaurant window as she spies on a reunion between Lola and her ex, she takes too many happy pills and falls over, and she randomly uses sanitary wipes on her body, all for no reason, and all to distract from the story.
Her random asides are about the only surprises the film comes up with. Completing the friend circle is Henry, a slightly weird yet occasionally endearing friend who suddenly becomes a bit more attractive once Lola is single. And maybe Alice, who apparently can’t find a man in the city, suddenly finds herself attracted to Henry too.
It is not just that the film offers such superficial characters, but to those 20-something young professionals/students living in a city in traveling through life, it can be somewhat offensive. Do we really sound and act like this? Some moments may ring true to life, like encountering your ex at a club and needing to get drunk and dance, or being serenading on a first date, but the constant apathy and helplessness than pervades the movie is just tiresome.
Her ex- fiancé Luke, the one character we’re not supposed to like, turns out to be the most normal of them all, save for one or two obvious clichés that the entire cast falls victim to. And Bill Pullman, who is Lola’s free-loving, hi-fidelity dad, and though another caricature, is the only who is worth listening to. As these attractive, well-off kids run through life getting upset at who kissed who, you can’t help agree with Pullman’s simple wisdom, but ultimately you want to add to the end of his advice, “just shut up.”