By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
When a bridegroom does an 11th-hour exit in the face of impending nuptials, “Lola Versus” gets its subject: What does a 29-year-old woman do when her well-sorted life trajectory suddenly goes completely, utterly askew?
Before we get to the answer to that question, we should mention that Lola, the 29-year-old jiltee, is played by Greta Gerwig, star of the recent “Damsels in Distress.” Gerwig is good enough to justify seeing the movie, whatever you ultimately end up thinking of “Lola Versus.”
The comedy is built on the basics of the format: Lola will commiserate with her best friend (Zoe Lister Jones, also the co-screenwriter), will go on a few dates, and will manage to ignore for as long as possible the puppydog attention of a devoted pal (Hamish Linklater) who also happens to be good friends with her ex.
Awkward. And then of course there’s the ex himself (Joel Kinnaman, from the TV show “The Killing”), who has not made his last appearance in our very confused heroine’s life.
When they appeared with the film at the just-completed Seattle International Film Festival, Zoe Lister Jones and director Daryl Wein (a real-life couple themselves) suggested that “Lola Versus” is an attempt to tell a few truths about a situation that too often goes the sitcom route, or ends up with the glamour of “Sex and the City.”
I have to admit that the particular truths offered up by “Lola Versus” don’t seem all that new, but most of them are funny and well-played. An especially choice date for Lola comes in the form of a very peculiar prison architect (Ebon Moss-Bachrach), who thankfully doesn’t disappear after one sequence but becomes a very useful running gag.
It’s easy enough to enjoy Debra Winger and Bill Pullman as Lola’s parents, too; in a quiet way, the film picks up the specific difficulty of being the grown child of boomer parents, and how the rebellions of Lola’s generation must take new forms. (Besides, how often do you get to see Debra Winger in anything these days?)
Greta Gerwig plays all this with the right combination of intelligence and poor decisions. Her dialogue delivery is always slightly off the beat, which suits the character, and I can’t think of too many other actors who manage to combine physical grace with clumsiness in the same gesture.
The movie breezes along in her wake, agreeable if not earth-shattering. Agreeable is good enough, in this case, to provide a sunny view on one woman’s bumpy road through life.
“Lola Versus” ½
After being jilted by a fiancé at the 11th hour, Lola (Greta Gerwig) navigates the tricky waters of singledom. The movie has fewer fresh observations than it probably thinks, but Gerwig makes a terrific heroine, and the generally sunny mood helps.
Rated: R for language, subject matter.