Movie review: Jilted bride reclaims her life in 'Lola Versus'


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Luke and Lola.

Although residing in present-day New York, they sound like they belong in a 1980s soap opera. As it turns out, they dabble in plenty of drama, complete with joy, tears, miscues and, if they're lucky, maturity in "Lola Versus."

As the comedy opens, Lola (Greta Gerwig) is turning 29 and everything is falling into place. Handsome artist Luke (Joel Kinnaman of TV's "The Killing") proposes, she says "yes," and they are three weeks from their big day when he gets icy feet and calls off their destination wedding.


'Lola Versus'

3 stars = Good
Ratings explained
  • Starring: Greta Gerwig, Joel Kinnaman, Zoe Lister-Jones, Hamish Linklater.
  • Rating: R for language, sexuality and drug use.

Lola must reclaim the apartment she sublet, continue her doctoral studies and lean on her parents and friends, who offer "consolation lasagna" and advice such as, "Being single builds character."

"Lola Versus," opening today at AMC-Loews at the Waterfront, follows Lola as she looks for love and happiness in all the right, wrong and familiar places.

Some of the scenarios may be romcom or sitcom routine (but with R-rated language and scenarios), but the cast isn't, especially Ms. Gerwig.

She broke out in "Greenberg" opposite Ben Stiller as a sweetly vulnerable, lost young woman who makes bad decisions about men. From there, she graduated to medical resident in "No Strings Attached," a tour guide in "Arthur" starring Russell Brand and a college coed in "Damsels in Distress."

It's impossible not to root for Lola, even when she's caught in the most awkward, wrongheaded situations, some involving best friends Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Henry (Hamish Linklater). Lending support are Lola's parents, played by too-little-seen Debra Winger and Bill Pullman.

For inspiration, co-writers Daryl Wein, also the director, and Ms. Lister-Jones drew upon their yearlong sabbatical from their relationship. Ms. Lister-Jones has called it her "year of traumatizing sexual escapades" and says she would never want to experience it again.

"Lola Versus" is not about Lola saying yes to the dress or another man but yes to herself although with some admittedly ridiculous detours, as into a strip club where she drunkenly clings to the pole. That makes four movies in two weeks with stops, brief or substantial, into strip clubs. Can we declare a movie moratorium?

She needs to learn the same lesson that little red-haired Merida does in "Brave." Sometimes you have to fight for your own hand and not rely on a suitor. That's a liberating message and why you root for Lola, who announces at one point, "I'm slutty, but I am a good person."

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your modern-day movie heroine.

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Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: www.post-gazette.com/madaboutmovies.


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