It's Greta Gerwig's time.
After about five years of piddling around micro-budget mumblecore films and a few minor appearances in forgettable in Hollywood romantic comedies (anyone out there remember "Arthur?"), the indie darling finally gets her chance to seize the spotlight in "Lola Versus." She owns it, and the movie greatly succeeds as a result.
Gerwig plays Lola, a late-20s grad student about to get married to Luke ("The Killing"'s Joel Kinnaman). However, with only a few weeks until their marriage, Luke breaks up with Lola, causing her life to spiral out of control. Her friends (Hamish Linklater and co-writer Zoe Lister Jones) and parents (Debra Winger and a rare Bill Pullman appearance) attempt to help Lola realign her life, but a series of flings makes matters more chaotic.
The movie's plot sounds eerily reminiscent of several other indie comedies, and many of "Lola Versus'" elements will have indie-weary audiences seeing d√©j√† vu. Lister Jones' Alice is the typical wild and crazy single best friend who gives advice and quirky support, and Lola's hip lifestyle, featuring chic jobs (her boyfriend has the indie-approved occupation of painter) and various trendy health foods, feels more clich√© than genuine.
Luckily, those are the only things in the movie that ring false. Director and co-writer Daryl Wein calmly handles the complex emotions on display in the story, a surprising feat for a director taking on his first big production (his only previous effort was a barely seen 2010 indie "Breaking Upwards," also co-written and starring Lister Jones). It's not a particularly flashy job, unlike "500 Days of Summer," the indie hit proudly touted on "Lola Versus'" poster, but Wein's little touches, such as swift cuts into Lola's mental images, go a long way.
The film is not about the style and direction; it's about its star and her hopefully star-making turn. Since her mainstream debut as Ben Stiller's girlfriend in Noah Baumbach's "Greenberg," Gerwig has shown herself to be a brave and compelling on-screen presence.
Unlike many indie darlings, Gerwig is completely unafraid to devote herself to the portrayal an unlikeable character. As Lola, she spends much of the film ruining her own life while trying to recover from her heartbreak. She has misguided flings, isolates herself from her friends and mindlessly tosses blame around.
She's phenomenally flawed, yet the actress fully commits to the character's chaotic and often self-imposed breakdown. As a result, her mistakes and confusion feel real instead of like screenplay contrivances, and the audience surprisingly finds itself understanding and feeling for her. It's helpful that, unlike some of her previous indies, such as last year's Milwaukee Film Festival entry, "The Dish and the Spoon," the script doesn't pile on faux quirky moments that have become an unfortunate staple of the indie genre.
Gerwig is just as capable with the comedy as with the drama. She has a fun, laid-back sense of comedic timing that works well with her co-stars and the film's snappy script. The actress also has fun with the wordless comedic moments. One of "Lola Versus'" bigger laughs comes from her silent reaction to one of Lister Jones' more unpleasant comments.
Silence is a reoccurring theme in "Lola Versus." Even with all of the man trouble, Lola's biggest quest is to find quiet peace for herself (and for her college thesis on the use of silence and empty space in poetry). It's ironic since, if the film finds the audience it deserves, its lead actress will be making a lot more noise in Hollywood.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by OnMilwaukee.com Staff Writers
Published April 29, 2017
The great Milwaukee weekend is here ... and so is your Weekend Preview! Make it a great one!
Published April 27, 2017
After the Bucks split the first four games of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series against the Raptors, the team travels back to Toronto for Game 5 and will again host a viewing party in Milwaukee to allow fans to come out and cheer the deer together on Monday night.
Published April 26, 2017
Now that spring is just about to kick off, you'll be able to raise the first of many steins at an area beer garden soon.
Published April 24, 2017
The 11th annual Milwaukee Italian Film Festival - which debuted in 2007 at Marquette's Varsity Theater - premieres eight acclaimed Italian films, April 28-30, at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Union Theater, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Published April 23, 2017
Whether your kid is more bouncy or more craft-oriented, there's a Brew City birthday party that can accommodate his / her wishes - and hopefully your budget.
Published April 23, 2017
For the past 15 years, artist Nicolas Lampert has focused on connecting local artists to Milwaukee social justice organizations, such as Voces de la Frontera and ReciproCity, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reports.
Published April 22, 2017
Just choose a few containers or locate some spots in the garden where you can include these bold-leafed beauties. Before you know it, you'll be sipping your favorite beverage in your very own tropical garden.
Published April 20, 2017
Now that "Pet Sounds" is celebrating its 51st birthday, the Beach Boys are traveling the world and celebrating the album one last time. That included a stop at Riverside Theater on Wednesday night, where they filled the auditorium with their smooth, melodic tunes.
Published April 20, 2017
Your Milwaukee Bucks are in the playoffs! If you can't make it to the festive atmosphere at the BMO Harris Bradley Center pull up a stool at any one of these great options.
Published April 17, 2017
Despite some less-than-grand attempts by the FAA to educate the public, drones still remain an issue that most people do not understand, both in their functions and in the laws surrounding them. So let's dig into some of the basics.