This month in Gerwig: Lola Versus

Tuesday July 17th 2012

As you may have noticed, distributors aren’t exactly champing at the bit to release their movies this week. Despite the rain driving would-be picnickers into cinemas, and the Olympics making the next few weeks an unpredictable marketplace for blockbusters and arthouse movies alike, Friday 20th July 2012 has long been a no-go zone for UK theatrical releases. Why? Because a power-mad millionaire with a superiority complex decided he needed yet another chance to prove he’s the hero the world needs. So he directed The Dark Knight Rises.

A few films have nonetheless decided to brave the storm and do battle with the Batman, and for that they deserve our respect.

Fig. 1: Extent to which this week’s releases are The Dark Knight Rises

The sole major distributor title among them is Lola Versus, an archetypal Fox Searchlight dramedy starring the Mumblequeen herself, Greta Gerwig. Directed and co-written by indie darling Daryl Wein, the film’s an anti-rom-com located four or five millimetres away from (500) Days of Summer, and it shares that film’s eagerness to be thought of as ‘unconventional’. Gerwig plays the eponymous Lola, a 29-year-old writer thrown into disarray by the sudden departure of her fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman, Sweden’s foremost purveyor of gormlessness). And for all the film’s flaws, she’s as fiercely adorable and occasionally devastating as ever.

Other love interests come and go in the forms of Ebon Moss-Bachrach (!) and Battleship‘s Hamish Linklater. And with the latter now counting both Miranda July and Greta Gerwig amongst his on-screen conquests, he’s surely only a one-night-stand with Lena Dunham away from fucking his way through the entire Williamsburg elite.

Lola’s fraught interactions with these and other men make for absorbing — if monotonous — viewing, and it’s incredibly refreshing to see a female lead who’s allowed to make mistakes without them all demonstratively blowing up in her face in the final act to teach her a lesson. Which isn’t to say the film’s entirely subtle — often it’s downright shouty. But Gerwig lends Wein’s script a sincerity it couldn’t muster on its own, and makes something of a success out of this mixed bag of rom-com tropes and indie quirks.

Of course, it’s impossible in this day and age to watch anything about the lives of aimless, self-absorbed New York twentysomethings and not wish you were watching Girls instead, but Lola Versus is — if not fit to walk the same ground as that show — at least fit to crawl along the gutter inconspicuously beside it.