by M. Faust
Is Greta Gerwig this year’s Jessica Chastain, the actress who seems to have come from nowhere to be everywhere at once? Okay, she’s only in four films this year, including Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love (opening here next week) and Noah Bambauch’s adaptation of The Corrections that HBO produced but doesn’t seem to want to show. She rather more resembles Chloë Sevigny, both in looks and a career trajectory that began with some of her era’s most noted independent films, in Gerwig’s case the “mumblecore” movies whose leading light she was.
Lola Versus plays like a mumblecore adaptation of An Unmarried Woman with most of the rough edges rounded off. Gerwig has the title role of a 29-year-old New Yorker on the verge of getting her doctor’s degree (in French literature) and marriage to her first and only boyfriend. When he gets cold feet a few weeks before the wedding, she’s left adrift, unmoored on the countdown to 30.
Do women of her milieu really worry about hitting 30 anymore? That’s one of many mildly nagging questions that may run through your head as you follow Lola trying to readjust old relationships and throw herself into new ones. She is assisted by that most ubiquitous of rom-com clichés, the sassy best friend, played by Zoe Lister Smith, who co-wrote the movie. The tone is odd throughout, as if no one told the director that the script was written as a comedy. (Given that the director is Daryl Wain, Smith’s real-life partner and cowriter, that’s unlikely.)
Lola Versus may not be the most dramatically resonant film of the year, but it has a certain charming verisimilitude in charting the sloppiness of emotional life. It wouldn’t work at all if not for Gerwig, an actress who seems perfectly at ease playing characters who are at loose ends. She may not be a mainstream star in the making—I can’t see her stepping into the kind of parts that Katherine Heigl makes a living from. But I look forward to seeing more of her in whatever she does.
Watch the trailer for Lola Versus
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