Pitched as an alternative to the traditional Hollywood rom-com but still resembling anything but, Daryl Wein’s Lola Versus suffers, like its title character, from missed opportunity. Well, that’s not the only thing its title character suffers from. Lola, played by Greta Gerwig playing Greta Gerwig, is a twenty-nine year old (the cusp of thirty! The biological clock is ticking! Guh!) New York graduate student on the verge of marrying her longtime boyfriend, Luke (Joel Kinnaman), until he abruptly breaks off the engagement. With assistance from her friends Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones, also a co-writer on the film) and Henry (Hamish Linklater), the latter harboring a secret affection for Lola, she attempts to regain her footing in the world. It doesn’t go so well.
Lola is an empathetic character, if not an entirely sympathetic one, as she spends most of the film following up an idiotic mistake with another equally idiotic mistake. Gerwig, as aforementioned doing her whole Greta Gerwig thing, distracts from the fact that Lola, despite being in nearly every frame of the film, seems to be woefully underwritten. When the film’s inevitable denouement comes, Lola’s realizations about herself seem unearned. All the audience learns about her is that she’s kind of bad at meeting men and occasionally seems to be working on a dissertation. Speaking of which, for a film that seems to be trying to explore woman’s independence, Lola Versus wildly fails the Bechdel test (used to measure the presence of women in film). Even Alice, at first the film’s most interesting and fun character, eventually starts in about how much she needs a man in her life. It’s all been done before, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Lola Versus pretends it’s something else.