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'Lola Versus': Gerwig shines in indie comedy

The best news about "Lola Versus" doesn't actually arrive until next week, even though Daryl Wein's movie opens here today.

It is next Friday when Woody Allen's newest, "To Rome With Love," arrives with a decent part for the actress who is the star of "Lola Versus," Greta Gerwig. Add that evidence of something resembling a major career in the offing to her previous role in Whit Stillman's nutsy "Damsels in Distress," and it's hard not to conclude that the indie goddess of mumblecore (i.e., the New York movement of mini-budget movies, distinguished by lurching, even fumbling naturalism) is on her way.

In other words, think of her as this year's Parker Posey.

Good news, that. Gerwig is reasonably splendid in "Lola Versus."

The movie is nothing of the sort. It's an occasionally funny comedy about a talkative young woman with, uh, self-esteem issues whose fiance dumps her three weeks before the wedding.

The fiancee is played by Joel Kinnaman. For those perked up by that fact because of Kinnaman's strong showing in the recently completed AMC TV show "The Killing," this is a completely different Kinnaman, not a fraction as interesting as the one on the TV show.

He is, in fact, more than a bit of a dithering jerk. He's all ready for a life together one minute, a memory the next, in search of new companionship right after that and then more than receptive when Lola comes back for more.

Most any parent would want to see that guy permanently ensconced in a young woman's rearview mirror as soon as possible. But Lola is still struggling to find herself.

Orlando Bloom was originally slated to play the role, but nothing could be more understandable than his bowing out.

She tries out other men, including a dweeby fellow with online skates who apologizes before sex because his premature birth incubator left him with a good deal more in the anatomical department to offer in the boudoir than the average fellow.

Lola finds it all kind of off-putting, but I have no doubt there are women who will see this movie and make discreet inquiries about partners and whether they were born prematurely.

Some of it, then, is funny in a low-level New York comedy-of-ungainliness way. But Gerwig is so much more worth watching than the movie that it's a waste of an emergent young actress who really needs a star-spangled, full-scale emergence already.

Bill Pullman and Debra Winger play Lola's loving parents, but they can't save the movie, either, from its own comic ineffectuality.

There are, no doubt, all manner of young women for whom the message of self-sufficiency, uber alles is an important one, but that really makes this a movie for only one gender.

It's sad that it's opening here the same week as the death of Nora Ephron, who was so gifted at making female self-realization movies for both genders.




2 stars (out of 4)    

STARRING: Greta Gerwig, Joel Kinnaman, Bill Pullman, Debra Winger, Zoe Lister Jones    

DIRECTOR: Daryl Wein    

RUNNING TIME: 87 minutes    

RATING: R for language, sex and drugs.    

THE LOWDOWN: A young woman is dumped by her fiance just before the wedding and wonders where her life will go from there.