Tribeca 2012: ‘Lola Versus’ aims to be a different sort of romcom

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The real-life couple Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones became indie darlings two years ago when their breakup dramedy ‘Breaking Upwards’ -- which they wrote, directed and starred in and made for about $15,000 -- became something of a media sensation and received an art-house release from IFC.

On Tuesday night at the Tribeca Film Festival, the two unveiled their sophomore effort, ‘Lola Versus,’ a far bigger project (relatively speaking) that stars Greta Gerwig and was financed by Fox Searchlight.

A romantic comedy that tries to avoid some of the genre’s more well-worn cliches, ‘Lola’ centers on the title character (Gerwig), a 29-year-old New Yorker who is stunned when her fiance (‘The Killing’s’ Joel Kinnaman) breaks up with her not long before their wedding.

After she goes into the requisite food-fueled despair (it doesn’t avoid all cliches), Lola finds herself in a complicated set of dynamics with her ex, her good male friend (Hamish Linklater of ‘The New Adventures of Old Christine’) and her potty-mouthed gal pal (Lister-Jones of ‘Whitney’).


The goal, the filmmakers say, was to tell a breakup story that was neither maudlin nor falsely redemptive, and to do it in a younger age range than many studio romantic comedies.

‘We hadn’t seen something post-breakup about someone [who was] 30 that was funny and real,’ Wein, 28, said in a question-and-answer session after the screening.’

The movie, which hits theaters June 8, will seek to capture the mojo of '(500) Days of Summer,’ another Searchlight youthful romance, though whether ‘Lola’ is emotional or clever enough to pull off that film’s crossover success remains an open question.

At the afterparty, Wein described his attempt to walk the line between punchline-driven romcom and stuttery mumblecore realism (indeed, the movie doesn’t go for broad laughs as much as it does small moments). He and Lister-Jones, 29, made their film as a true family affair -- they shaped the story in part using their own experiences, then collaborated on the writing before he went on to direct while she acted.

On the lower Manhattan set of the movie last year, Gerwig told 24 Frames that she thought those multiple hats served the film.

‘I like a team that does everything, because it means having one mind behind something instead of feeling like you’re getting thrown things by a lot of different people and then not even knowing why half the stuff is there anymore,’ she said. ‘There’s a lot more rhythm to working this way, and I think you’ll see it in the finished product.’


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-- Steven Zeitchik in New York