Lola Versus (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
13Sep/120

Lola Versus (2012)

Lola Versus got me thinking about how important it is to make sure that your film has an appropriate title.  You'll get the gist of the movie here, Lola (Greta Gerwig,) is fighting against something.  Easy enough to infer, but that leaves the question of what she is fighting against.

Honestly, if you put a gun to my head I'd have difficulty answering that question in terms of the plot.  We're supposed to root for her throughout her trials of near-marriage and friend manipulation but I find those topics to be really hard to be optimistic on.  When Lola demeans her friend after a nervous stage performance is this a positive character moment?  Or how about when she tries to have sex with her ex's best friend and then calls the ex for some love in the morning when her plan falls through?  Oh, or how she manages to keep up a privileged wage based on a waitresses salary when the restaurant she works at serves wine laced with fruit?

Lola seems to be against everything.  She treats her friends, coworkers, loved-ones, and family so horribly it's a wonder they ever bothered to drag her out of another "pity me" depression spiral just to take another round.  All the while a jangly, atmospheric spat of indie-rock chortles about on the soundtrack in the search of a movie with a heart while depressed it found this one.  This is not a movie I'll be remembering fondly when it comes to empathetic character pieces.

"I don't even know what the fuck." Sadly, I have a clue.

Screenwriters Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister Jones have crafted the single most unlikable character of 2012.  There is nothing about Lola that gives us reason to follow her around on her vapid adventures for an hour and a half.  After the attempt at setting her up as the victim when she's left at the altar by her nervous fiancee (Joel Kinnaman) there is little she does to redeem his, in hindsight, logical response.

She is a horrible person.  When she's not setting up her friends against each other or forcing them to pick sides she's whining about how life has treated her so unfairly in spite of incredible good luck.  Lola can barely recognize her own privilege and how it hurts people, best seen in the half an hour span where she goes from wanting to write about the "emptiness of the page" to "writing about cats."  Ah, so she's a horrible writer thinking in abstract terms servicing solely herself in obscure fields only she can study because of her mom's quirky diner?

I've been going about this "writing for a living" thing all wrong.  All I needed to do was become a horrible person and surround myself with indie cliche's that have somehow become sitcom norms.  The people in this film have all the standard quirks which have become regulatory in the indie-romance landscape.  Lola's best friend tans herself with spray and courts inattentive actors while spraying "weed mint" into her mouth, for starters.  But keeps all of these now cliche'd bouts of specialness wrapped in a shell of mediocrity that would have been poor on '80s sitcoms.

It's about as close as you're going to get to watching someone cry while masturbating with the uncomfortable bonus of audience participation.

Wein, also the director, is trying so hard to get you to relate to Lola that he decided the best way to bring you into her world be through humorous fantasies and lens flare.  The fantasies don't fare too well as they constantly portray her as someone who is weak on top of being unhealthily self-possessed, quick to anger, deceptive...all the good things we've come to expect from protagonists.  The lens flare is just a constant annoyance that could have been easily replaced by soft focus.  Really, after we've watched Lola screw around yet again, does the entire shot need a beam of light cutting straight into our eyes?

If the goal is to support migraine generation, I suppose that's a good plan. Unfortunately, a lot of great performers got dragged down in this wretched material.  That said, it's really hard to gather dramatic traction when they're provided with lines like "I'm slutty but I am a good person," and, "If you were anymore calm you'd be dead."

Though, in all fairness, the less time spent regarding the creative process that led Lola to have sex with an incubator baby with an enormous penis to the sounds of Ani Difranco the better.  So let's close on that rousing image, 'eh?

Lola Versus (2012)
Directed by Daryl Wein.
Screenplay by Zoe Lister and Wein.
Starring Greta Gerwig.

Posted by Andrew

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