Starring Greta Gerwig, Zoe Lister-Jones, Hamish Linklater, Joel Kinnaman, Bill Pullman, Debra Winger, and Cheyenne Jackson. Written by Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein. Directed by Daryl Wein.
Nothing quite forces a discriminating moviegoer to reevaluate his or her expectations like the phrase "from the studio that brought you...," a selling point so damningly inconsequential it comes across as desperate. It would be like Warner Bros. using Casablanca to lure people into screenings of Battlefield Earth.
This shaky distinction is the lead weight around the ankles of Lola Versus, whose trailers remind us that the film comes from the studio that brought us (500) Days of Summer. The forced connection only sets the film up for failure; propping Lola up against Summer isn't going to do either film or its parent studio any favors.
Dumped by her pretty-boy artist fiancé (Kinnanman) weeks before the wedding, Lola (an astonishingly annoying Gerwig) sets out on a series of entirely predictable romantic misadventures with best friend Alice (Lister-Jones) and friend-zoned guy pal Henry (Linklater) in an effort to bounce back. Power-eating, binge-drinking, and ill-advised one-night stands ensue, supplemented by Alice's allegedly endearing sassy remarks and hedonistic advice. The film is obviously a vehicle for Gerwig, which would be fine if she devoted an iota of pathos to Lola or if the film had a somewhat engaging story to back it up. Neither is true.
Wein and Lister-Jones, who split writing duties, have said they looked to their own experiences when scripting the film. There's nothing wrong with a bit of authenticity, but Lola might be too real: it's too pedestrian to stand out. You might not mind hearing about a friend's tryst with a well-endowed rebound over coffee; offering up millions of otherwise useful American dollars to make said story into a film is another matter entirely.
At least it's not all bad. Wein and Lister-Jones give Alice all the best lines (I might have chuckled), but even these few precious victories are short-lived, as they also managed to write in more than a handful of duds. "I'm going to clean my vagina now," Lister-Jones says for no discernible reason, probably after Gerwig attempts to conjure up any other emotion besides exasperating neediness. All right then, I'll see myself out.
Now playing at the Birmingham 8.