The about-to-turn-30, angsty, artsy New York couple behind the film — Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones — have essentially thrown a pity party for Lola. (The duo wrote the screenplay, then Wein directed and Lister-Jones plays Lola's friend Alice.) Massive tears are shed, too much alcohol is consumed, there's a bit of random sex, a bit of desperate random sex and Lola spends enough time lying on the floor moaning to qualify as a narcissistic mess.
That's what passes for a plot, yet it is almost enough because Gerwig is that distinctive and interesting an actress to watch, especially when the story includes a lot of raw truth-telling. She is always game for baring her soul, even when it's not pretty — something there were glimpses of in her turn as a Hollywood assistant type-occasional lover in 2010's
Lola's story begins on a very short-lived high. It's three weeks before her wedding to Luke (Joel Kinnaman), an up-and-coming visual artist who is sexy, sweet and getting a serious case of cold feet. Kinnaman, known for his role as a tough, cynical cop on TV's
She may have lost her fiance, but Lola is not alone. As good as Gerwig is, she is always better when she's surrounded by other characters because there is something tangibly fresh about the way she plays off other actors.
The support system here starts with
Then there is Lister-Jones, doing her thing as Alice. It's a kind of dry, deadpan, self-deprecating rap that we saw when she played another BFF in the TV comedy
What was underrealized in that earlier relationship comedy comes together better, if not fully, in "Lola Versus." One of the strengths the filmmakers have is in dialogue that is smartly sharp without seeming too precious or too caustic. One of the weaknesses is a shaky structure underneath. What helps is that Wein brings a strong visual sensitivity to the patter, the pain and the silences. His choice to shoot on film rather than going digital, with Jakob Ihre ("Oslo, August 31st") handling the cinematography, creates a movie that, like Gerwig, is lovely to look at — which is almost, almost enough.
'Lola Versus' -- 2 1/2 stars
MPAA rating: R (for language, sexuality and drug use)
Running time: 1:26