“Lola Versus” features Greta Gerwig as a poor, pitiful New York girl facing down all the number of challenges that confront her in the oh-so-austere loft life. We get to listen to her talk about how much sodium she is eating during her post-breakup Pop Chip binge, putting all those other rom-com stars to shame with their tubs of ice cream! We revel in her Whole Foods, granola-style quirkiness, exemplified by her love of macrobiotic food, her modern design tastes, and her charming mild case of flightiness.
Gerwig’s Lola is too much of a paradigm, too sanitized for us to really buy that she could have any real problems. Even beyond the white, wealthy, whiny argument that pestered Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love,” she’s been so watered-down to an essence that we don’t buy into her struggles because she really shouldn’t be having them. She’s an ideal, and movies that call into question the validity of an archetype generally have much more magnified scopes and stakes than this.
In addition, this movie has basically been invalidated by Lena Dunham‘s “Girls” and feels even more irrelevant now that Zooey Deschanel has gone mainstream in “New Girl.” (It would have merely been redundant in a post-”(500) Days of Summer” world.) Lola’s journey has been tread a number of times in the past few years, and those who have gone on before her have done it with far more creativity, more spunk, more zeal, and more veracity.
Gerwig is far better when she can be a little bit mopey and downtrodden. Real girls don’t face a sea change in their life at the age of 29 with the hopeful whimsy slightly tinged with vacuous sadness, and Gerwig shouldn’t be forced to sell this unconvincing lie. It’s useless, throwaway boondoggle material that takes away the time you could have used to watch three episodes of “Girls.” C /