Daryl Wein is in the business of breakups. While the 28-year-old indie wunderkind, whose breakout Breaking Upwards was based off his real-life split from his collaborator, writer/actress Zoe Lister-Jones (the two have since reunited) is back in the saddle with their latest trip to Splitsville, the romantic dramedy Lola Versus.
Only this time, it's not their relationship being put under the microscope of the big screen. In fact, the titular Lola (played by Greta Gerwig, pictured on set with Wein) isn't based on anyone in particular, but an amalgamation of bad breakups.
During an interview with Hollywood.com, Wein, who served as both director and co-writer (alongside Lister-Jones) for Lola Versus assures, "The script is fictional, nothing in the script actually happened to us." While Wein says they used some of their single friends as "inspiration," they really "just kind of used that world as a jumping-off point."
But the real jumping-off point for Lola Versus came when Wein and Lister-Jones were riding high off the success of Breaking Upwards back in 2009. "On the festival circuit [for Breaking Upwards] we were talking about our different experiences when we were single and realized Zoe's was a lot more interesting and traumatic as a woman than it was for me as a man," Wein explains, "We weren't seeing a lot of single, female, post-breakup stories in film that felt authentic and real and funny. So we figured, 'Let's go make that'."
And so they did. Penning Lola Versus almost immediately after promoting Breaking Upwards and shooting it a year later, they made their movie — about a late twentysomething New Yorker whose life unravels after her fiance unexpectedly calls off their wedding —with a specific purpose in mind. Lola wasn't going to be another heartbroken girl whose life looked far too glossy for someone going through such a dark experience.
"We thought it was important to show women that were more raw and tough than were typically portrayed. I think there's this expectation that women have to be proper and always winning and I think that stems back to our puritanical roots in America and society of keeping women at bay. It's almost a chauvinistic attitude towards them," Wein explains. "You've seen men get to be messy and buffoons [in movies] and it's nice to see women getting to speak unapologetically about what they're going through. It's important to put that side on the forefront that challenges the expectation of what a typical protagonist is supposed to be."
And Lola is the opposite of a rom-com protagonist in every sense of the word. In the throes of her breakup, Lola makes a series of unfortunate decisions, including hooking up with her ex's best friend. "Sometimes it's hard to like [Lola]," Wein admits, "but that's the important part of capturing the authenticity of what it's like to be in a post-breakup spiral. You're not always going to be this glowing ball of positivity. You're in that funk of trying to get back on your feet and people aren't always going to like you. You're making mistakes or you're crossing boundaries sometimes. But you learn from that and eventually, hopefully, you come out learning something about yourself." Spoken like a true breakup survivor.
Now being on the happy side of the relationship coin, Wein got to enjoy the fruits of his Lola labor, including getting to work with one of his personal favorites: Bill Pullman. "[He] is such a sweetheart," Wein says of the veteran actor who plays Lola's wise, easy-going father Lenny. "I've always loved [Newsies] and when I told him that on set he was like, 'Of all the movies I've done that's the one you like the most?' and I was like 'I got a soft spot for musicals, man.'
Wein's musical inclinations proved to be helpful in finding the right sound for Lola Versus. Wein recruited eclectic Brooklyn group Fall On Your Sword to set the score for the film. "I heard their score in You Won't Miss Me and I thought it was really exciting and it felt fresh. They felt like the perfect fit to elevate what we rend to think of scores for these [types of] movies," Wein says of the band, who also created the score for the drama Another Earth.
"I was looking to have a score that wasn't as traditional as typical relationship scores, which tend to be with orchestral or acoustic guitar type stuff. So I really wanted something that was a little bit edgier and that felt more current and contemporary and modern." Sounds like Lola, alright.
Lola Versus opens in select theaters today.
[Photo credit: Fox Searchlight]
Lola Versus Star Greta Gerwig: Why "It's a Really Special Time to Be a Girl Making Movies" Lola Versus Poster Features Rising Star Greta Gerwig Lola Versus Review
At the moment there are few greater clichés in the media than the freaking out single woman on the cusp of 30. Of course clichés are clichés for a reason worth exploring even through the lens of just one or two women as in Lola Versus. Unfortunately while the intention behind Lola Versus isn't that we should all be happily married by the age of 30 it still fits into the same rubric of all those "Why You're Not Married" books.
Lola (Greta Gerwig) has a gorgeous fiancé Luke (Joel Kinnaman) and they live in a giant loft together the kind of dreamy NYC real estate that seems to exist primarily in the movies. Just as they're planning their gluten-free wedding cake with a non-GMO rice milk-based frosting Luke dumps her. It's cruelly sudden — although Luke isn't a cruel man. Lola finds little comfort in the acerbic wit of her best friend the eternally single Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones) who is probably delighted to see her perfectly blonde best friend taken down a peg and into the murky world of New York coupling. Lola and Luke share a best friend Henry (Hamish Linklater) a messy-haired rumpled sweetheart who is kind and safe and the inevitable shelter for Lola's fallout. Her parents well-meaning and well-to-do hippie types feed her kombucha and try to figure out their iPads and give her irrelevant advice.
Lola Versus is slippery. Its tone careens between broad TV comedy and earnest dramedy almost as if Alice is in charge of the dirty zingers and Lola's job is to make supposedly introspective statements. Alice's vulgar non-sequiturs are tossed off without much relish and Lola's dialogue comes off too often as expository and plaintive. We don't need Lola to tell Henry "I'm vulnerable I'm not myself I'm easily persuaded" or "I'm slutty but I'm a good person!" (Which is by the way an asinine statement to make. One might even say she's not even that "slutty " she's just making dumb decisions that hurt those around her just as much as she's hurting herself.)
We know that she's a mess — that's the point of the story! It's not so much that a particularly acerbic woman wouldn't say to her best friend "Find your spirit animal and ride it until its d**k falls off " but that she wouldn't say it in the context of this movie. It's from some other movie over there one where everyone is as snarky and bitter as Alice. You can't have your black-hearted comedy and your introspective yoga classes. Is it really a stride forward for feminism that the clueless single woman has taken the place of the stoner man-child in media today? When Lola tells Luke "I'm taken by myself. I've gotta just do me for a while " it's true. But it doesn't sound true and it doesn't feel true.
In one scene Lola stumbles on the sidewalk and falls to the ground. No one asks her if she's okay or needs help; she simply gets up on her own and goes on her way. It's a moment that has happened to so many people. It's humiliating and so very public but of course you just gotta pick yourself up and get where you're going. In this movie it's a head-smackingly obvious metaphor. In one of the biggest missteps of the movie Jay Pharoah plays a bartender that makes the occasional joke while Lola is waiting tables at her mom's restaurant. His big line at the end is "And I'm your friend who's black!" It would have been better to leave his entire character on the cutting room floor than attempt such a half-hearted wink at the audience.
Lister-Jones and director Daryl Wein co-wrote the screenplay for Lola Versus as they did with 2009's Breaking Upwards. Both films deal with the ins and outs of their own romantic relationship in one way or another. Breaking Upwards a micro-budget indie about a rough patch in their relationship was much more successful in tone and direction. Lola Versus has its seeds in Lister-Jones' experience as a single woman in New York and is a little bit farther removed from their experiences. Lola Versus feels like a wasted opportunity. Relatively speaking there are so few movies getting made with a female writer or co-writer that it almost feels like a betrayal to see such a tone-deaf portrayal of women onscreen. What makes it even more disappointing is how smart and likable everyone involved is and knowing that they could have made a better movie.
Timing, as we all know too well, is everything. Whether it be in an ultimately ill-fated relationship or being unconventional in Hollywood during a time when offbeat is not only celebrated, but a success story. It all comes down to timing.
So it's fitting that actress Greta Gerwig, she of indie cred like Greenberg and Damsels in Distress, is appearing in the new romantic comedy Lola Versus. A movie about that time in a young New Yorkers life when the timing is completely wrong just so happens to be out at the same time as cultural game-changers like Girls and Bridesmaids leading the charge.
The impeccable timing and inevitable comparisons of her lovelorn Lola — a smart, but fumbling late twentysomething who is dumped by her fiance just weeks before their wedding and is left to pick up the pieces of her life — to the recent trend of flawed female characters is something that resonated with Gerwig, who chatted with Hollywood.com about her latest project.
"She's the hardest to love," Gerwig says of the titular Lola in Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister Jones' observational urban relationship comedy, "Usually they're kind of perfect and have no flaws or their flaws can be gotten over in a day. [Lola's flaws] are deep and she makes big mistakes and I really liked that." While Gerwig, who has also starred in more mainstream fare like No Strings Attached and Arthur, says she's not opposed to that type of moviemaking ("I go both ways…I love Notting Hill, I love those [kinds of] movies") she is happy to be part of the new wave of female-driven rom coms.
"It's a really special time to be a girl making movies because there's a certain craving for people who look more like people you know, people who seem like people you know," Gerwig tells Hollywood.com, "I think that's true of Bridesmaids and a lot of these movies, they just don't alienate you. You recognize them, even when that's painful."
Of course, even if Hollywood has finally caught up with finding beauty in flaws with entertainment like Lola Versus, Girls, and Bridesmaids, Gerwig admits it even took her a little time to get there. "I went through a phase of really wanting to fit in and be like everyone else and be that beautiful starlet that has no flaws," she says, adding, "I think, really, at the end of the day for me it's so much more powerful and special to be able to accept myself for who I am and not try to change it."
It's a good thing for Gerwig that she opted to stay true to herself than mold to the typical Hollywood conventions: the 28-year-old's talents caught the attention of the one and only Woody Allen. Gerwig appears in the Oscar-winning legend's latest international love letter To Rome With Love, an experience she says was "totally surreal and amazing."
"It was [filmed] in Rome, so that just added to the feeling of 'Where am I and what's happening?'," Gerwig explains, "I was just so honored and grateful to be able to work with him. It doesn't even feel like I actually got to do it because it went by so fast and I was nervous the whole time. I hope I get to do it again one day so I can actually savor it."
Still, even with Gerwig's good fortune to work with the likes of icons such as Woody Allen and her Lola Versus co-star Debra Winger ("She's a woman who has not been put into a cookie cutter mold….it felt so special to work with someone like that, who didn't succumb to pressure to be a certain way,") sometimes the timing can still go wrong.
Gerwig was part of Noah Baumbach and Scott Rudin's all-star television adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's acclaimed novel The Corrections. The family drama, which also starred Ewan McGregor, Dianne Wiest, Chris Cooper, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, was passed over by HBO. "I think it's not going to happen," Gerwig says of the fate of the project, "It was an amazing cast and an amazing script. I think ultimately it just wasn't for television and I think they realized that. Maybe it would have worked better as a miniseries."
But Gerwig isn't taking the Hollywood timing misfortune to heart. In fact, she has all the positivity of the smart, hopeful twentysomethings that are touching a nerve with audiences these days about it. "It's just one of those things. It was a bummer, but thems the breaks."
[Photo credit: Fox Searchlight]
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More: Lola Versus Poster Features Rising Star Greta Gerwig
The Tribeca Film Festival might be diversifying its image these days — what with its recent announcement that The Avengers would be concluding this year's fest — but it still calls small, introspective dramedies its bread and butter. The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival, which lasts from Apr. 18 - 29, will premiere Lola Versus, from writer director Daryl Wein.
The film stars if-you-don't-know-her-by-now-you-will-soon Greta Gerwig (No String Attached, Arthur) in a story about dealing with the approach of the big 3-0 and a recent breakup simultaneously via a series of exciting, hedonistic adventures with her closest friends. Among Gerwig's costars are other big namers on the rise, Joel Kinnaman (known best for his role on AMC's The Killing, and for the upcoming remake of Robocop) and Zoe Lister Jones (Whitney). Considering the talent involved, Lola Versus seems like a must-see at this year's fest. Check out the poster of Gerwig seizing her youth below.
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