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Lola Versus


Stars: Greta Gerwig, Joel Kinnaman, Zoe Lister-Jones, Hamish Linklater, Bill Pullman, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Jay Pharoah, Debra Winger

Director: Daryl Wein

Certain words make this reviewer a tad wary prior to seeing films which they describe – the first two being “American Independent” which all too often herald a barely beyond home made movie briefly seen at the Nome, Alaska Midwinter Minor Movie Festival and usually marking the reappearance of rightly forgotten actors.

Another is “mumblecore” which, explains Wikipedia, is “a term used to describe a number of American independent films produced in the early 2000s, characterised by low budget production values and amateur actors”.

All three words rose in my mind watching Gerwig make her way through this romcom, which unfortunately lacks anything really worth watching either as rom or com.

She’s certainly a mumblecore regular, having appeared in such genre pieces as LOL and Hannah on the Stairs and has appeared in such independent films as Greenberg and the embarrassingly overrated Damsels in Distress. Her mainstream ‘break’ was the unfortunate remake of Arthur.

Here, in co-writer (with cast member Zoe Lister-Jones) and director Wein’s emaciated screenplay, Gerwig displays little in the way of charisma or comic-dramatic skills playing a 29-year-old New Yorker dumped by fiance Kinnaman three weeks before their wedding. Understandably upset, Gerwig goes in search of herself. Her time would have been better spent searching for a better film in which to appear. (Even Arthur 2 might seem preferable).

The bloodless screenplay gets the pallid performances it deserves. Lister-Jones irritates as a hyper stage actress and Kinnaman and Linklater as her later squeeze leave acting vacuums on the screen. I suppose, in fairness, that it’s possible that Pullman and Winger completists (if any exist) might find something to watch in their idols playing Gerwig’s parents.

In summary Lola Versus comes across like a (failed) pilot for a comedy series for a minor American cable television company. Switch channels as soon as you can.

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox. Colour by deluxe.
87 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 18 Jul 2012