The new indie “Lola Versus,” strips away some of the more unpleasant tics of the modern romantic comedy.
No last-minute reunions at an airport. No wacky misunderstandings. The lead doesn’t pick up a hairbrush and sing into it. And, best of all, Greta Gerwig plays our lonely lady, not the too ready to please Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigl.
So why is “Lola Versus,” out on Blu-ray this week, an amiable flop?
No emotional insight. No big laughs. No leading character who acts older than, say, 16 1/2 years of age.
Indie princess Gerwig is Lola, a 29-year-old abandoned by her fiance mere weeks before their wedding. She’s crushed by the break up, understandably so, and retreats into the platonic arms of her best guy pal Henry (Hamish Linklater).
What follows is a lackluster parade of single gal miscues, from hopping into bed on an erroneous whim to self-defeating behavior writ small. Gerwig’s Lola clomps through it all like a little girl wearing mommy’s best dress. She’s bewildered and uncomfortable, a woman who acts far younger than her years.
Yes, her parents (Debra Winger, Bill Pullman) have a hippie-esque vibe, but they’re kind and well meaning and hardly suggest being responsible for an emotionally stunted daughter.
The best scenes employ Gerwig’s dazed beauty, like during a supremely flawed love-making session that goes wrong in all the right ways – for audiences. Still, those unaware of Gerwig’s “Indie It Actress” status will be hard pressed to understand all the hoopla.
Even the “best friend” sidekick, one romcom staple “Lola Versus” didn’t abandon, makes little sense. Zoe Lister-Jones, who co-wrote the pop culture heavy script, is screwball funny as Lola’s pal. But her character’s arc feels like a manufactured attempt to create drama where none should really be.
“Lola Versus” floats by in an inoffensive fashion, buoyed by a few wry chuckles, a pretty cast and the universal sense of the unknown after a beast of a break up. What’s missing are the insights into this uncertain chapter in our lives, the sense that the filmmakers understand human nature enough to string us along for 90-odd minutes.
The film arrives with a solid number of Blu-ray extras, including commentary from director/co-writer Daryl Wein and Lister-Jones, an alternate ending, deleted scenes and a pair of Fox Movie Channel featurettes on the film.
The “Nick the Dick” outtakes reveal more awkward exchanges with one of Lola’s biggest romantic mistakes (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), while “Greta Gerwig: Leading Lady” makes the case for the star’s ascension to the A-list.
“She’s a chameleon, so she’s different in every movie,” producer Michael London says.
In “Lola Versus,” Gerwig hardly looks like an actress bound for the A-list.
Follow Christian Toto on Twitter @TotoMovies