Film Review: Lola Versus

Derivative, white-bread rom-com about a dumped girl seeking happiness in NYC.

On the verge of turning 30, Lola (Greta Gerwig) finds herself suddenly dumped by her supposedly perfect fiancé (Joel Kinnaman) and goes through a year of hell, binging on depression and snack food. Her girlfriend (Zoe Lister-Jones) is there for her but not really helpful, as she is even more of an emotional needy mess than Lola. Her best buddy Henry (Hamish Linklater) is more supportive in a healthy way, but only adds to her confusion because of the attraction she has always subliminally felt for him.

With Lola Versus, director/co-writer Daryl Wein (Breaking Upwards) makes a stab at a Manhattan rom-com centered on the neurotic and needy that has a light, agreeable playfulness, but it doesn’t add much of anything new to the genre. It’s all very been there-done that, from Lola’s “funny” slide into gloom and doom; the yakking, inept gal pal; the wacky ex-hippie parents; an Oxycontin mix-up (already done on “Arrested Development”); yoga for laughs; and especially Linklater, once more playing the male version of a modern Eve Arden—i.e., the attractive, funny, smart one no one ever considers romantically. (I do hope it’s his last such part, as he has more range than that, which he has consistently delivered on the New York stage.) The script is full of vegan references, which represent its only true attempt at originality, but that’s far from enough.

Gerwig’s material is decidedly less twee than in Whit Stillman’s Damsels in Distress, and she fares a bit better here. She’s a likeable presence with her unstressed comic timing and slightly doleful prettiness. Lister-Jones is likewise ingratiating and I’d love to see her in something where she doesn’t have to push so hard for laughs (although she did co-write the screenplay). Bill Pullman and Debra Winger both have a nice moment or two as Lola’s parents, and lend an urban geniality to the proceedings. (He immediately un-friends that skittish fiancé on Facebook.) As the kind of seemingly okay Manhattan prospect who turns into the date from hell, Ebon Moss-Bachrach is quite funny and mercifully unpredictable, enough to scare anyone into a lifetime of celibacy and solitude.