Last week saw the arrival of Hysteria, a comic celebration of the invention of the vibrator. Although the film was mostly told from a male point of view, it nonetheless linked the invention of that useful device to women's empowerment. In the only witty image in Lola Versus, the title character ruminates in the very first scene on her youthful self-absorption as she meditates at the ocean's edge. And in her mind's eye, the sand is littered with shoes, handbags and vibrators. Hundreds of them stretching down the beach.
Sadly, 90 minutes later, after Lola (played by Greta Gerwig, who should know better) has been dumped by her handsome, boring fiancé (a suitably wooden Joel Kinnaman), had reckless rebound affairs with a platonic friend (Hamish Linklater) and a weirdo rollerblader (Ebon Moss-Bachrach)—as well as makeup sex with the ex-fiancé followed by a new breakup—Lola decides that she doesn't want a new man after all. It's time for her to just "do me." What starts as a woman fighting co-dependence ends as an affirmation of narcissism.
Too bad Lola's messy existence isn't very interesting, even if she lives in hippest Brooklyn: There's no evidence she has an interior life that doesn't involve men (we're told she's a grad student in literature but we never see her open a book) or hitting the bars with a sex-starved pal (Zoe Lister-Jones) who spouts relentless Sex and the City-isms. Take away the references to Yelp, Facebook and Match.com and this film, from the writing-directing team of Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein, could be an imitation of any navel-gazing relationship comedy with a hip young actress from the last 20 years, from Reality Bites through (500) Days of Summer.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Grrrrl, you'll be a woman soon."