Poor Lola. In addition to battling life, love, and herself, she also must contend with mediocre critical enthusiam for her plight. Earlier this week, an email circulated around the internet from the creators of Lola Versus concerning the film’s lack luster opening weekend, citing comments from a few grumpy old men as the cause. Subsequent analysis on the email and a little bit of number crunching proved that male critics didn’t necessarily dislike the film in greater numbers than female critics, they disliked it about the same. But my job doesn’t lie with pointing fingers, it lies with telling you why you should see this movie if you’ve ever craved carathsis over an unconventional breakup that slowly turned you into a raving self-destructive lunatic. Lola (Greta Gerwig) is getting married. Her finance Luke (Joel Kinnamen) gets cold feet and quite suddenly months of planning and thinking about the future is lost. She has two friends ready and eager to pick her up again, the lovable Henry (Hamish Linklater) stuck in the “friend zone,” and the zany up for a good time Alice (Zoe Lister Jones). So far, pretty tame and familiar territory as far as rom-coms go. But all this plot unfolds within the first 10 mintues leaving the rest of the film to blossom into a different story. The film is much more concerned with what exactly happens to your brain after a tough breakup, and the ill-advised yet irresistable decisions that result in numerous relationship backslides of varying kinds and degrees. And even this explanation doesn’t quite capture the essence of what Lola Versus has to offer. It explores that inherent selfishness in us all, that drives us to want to keep our options open and our relationships calibrated to our exact specifications whenever we like. While it may not necessarily sound like a fun night at the movies, never has a “rom-com” felt so satisfying for me as a female movie-goer. Unlike other film genres, rom-coms have the added pressure of depicting one of life’s greatest and sometimes most painful experiences. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when so many miss the mark. It can’t be easy to make such a film resonate with every member of the audience, which is why I feel so many rom-coms come off as generic fairytales that garner little respect whether they deserve it or not. Cater to the least common denominator and you have a winner. Lola Versus will not resonate with everyone (as we’ve seen), but therein lies what makes this type of rom-com so special. Its resonance comes from its specificity. We may not have experienced what it is like to be single, 30, just out of an engagement and living in New York City, but the emotions and character choices are relatable in their honesty. I was uncomfortable at times watching this film because of how “This is Your Life” it was to me. I love that Lola is sometimes not a considerate person. She does things impulsively and only considers the consequences for herself and other people later. But instead of covering her tracks, she attempts to justify their existence in the first place. Under the security blanket of a broken heart, how can she do wrong? These are feelings no one really wants to be confronted with. As an aside, I also feel this film is getting an underwhelming reception because of its overtly upper-middle class New York meilieu. Everyone’s an artist, or student, and consuming various types of unprocessed food stuffs. It maybe getting tiresome, but taking the film as a whole, I’m not the least bit bothered by it because of the story that unfolds. Again, while it does well to represent the setting, the film’s strength is in the relatable character interactions. The stellar performances of Gerwig and Linklater also help to curtail the hipster vibes, their characters blending into the environment with the unencumbered ease of true natives, something that can only be achieved in a world intimately familiar to cast and crew. I adored this movie because it allowed me to reflect on a particular time in my past, a time that up until this point seemed lacking on the big screen. To others, it may just be their version of an unrealistic fantasy portrayal of relationships. And that’s okay, but it’s worth experiencing Lola Versus for yourself before writing it off.
Lola Versus opens today at the Ritz Five. Official site.
“This is the business we’ve chosen!” Jill Malcolm and Ryan Silberstein, two self-described film aficionados, tell it like it is about the latest and greatest movies. They are Contributing editors here at Cinedelphia, writing partners, and founders of Filmhash.com.