Lola Versus (15) / The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best (15)
Two dumpees wander round NYC being goofy. If only they were in the same film
Sunday 22 July 2012
In a week with such a dearth of new films for superhero-phobes to choose from, it's ironic that two of the alternatives should be so similar. Lola Versus and The Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best have so much in common that, at any moment, the characters from one film might turn a corner and bump into characters from the other.
Both are downbeat but twee indie comedies set in New York; and not just anwhere in New York, but the graffiti-sprayed, hipster neighbourhoods populated by arty twentysomethings in frayed T-shirts and vintage frocks. And the protagonists of both films – if "protagonists" doesn't credit them with too much energy – have both just been dumped. In Lola Versus, it's Greta Gerwig (as the eponymous Lola) who's newly single. Jilted by her fiancé a month before their wedding date, she goes into a tailspin, neglecting her PhD, leaning heavily on her friends Hamish Linklater and Zoe Lister-Jones (who is also the film's co-writer), and stumbling drunkenly into terrible clubs and the beds of terrible men.
In The Brooklyn Brothers ..., it's Ryan O'Nan (also the film's writer-director) who's the dumpee. Not only has his girlfriend left him, but he's been kicked out of an acoustic folk-rock duo for writing too many songs about moths, and sacked from his job as a children's entertainer for punching a child.
Together with Lena Dunham's recent Tiny Furniture, these films paint a vivid picture of a generation of middle-class Americans emerging from higher education without jobs or prospects, but shut out of adult society by their navel-gazing passivity. It's hard to feel too sorry for them, though, when they seem to have well-off families to support them. Gerwig, in particular, might be a more sympathetic heroine if she didn't own a Manhattan apartment, and if her wealthy parents, Bill Pullman and Debra Winger, didn't have a restaurant for her to work in.
In other words, Lola Versus and The Brooklyn Brothers are films in which privileged young people whinge that the world hasn't handed them everything they want. At his lowest ebb, O'Nan is able to stay with his loving older brother, Andrew McCarthy. He's also invited to form a band by Michael Weston, an oddball with a collection of toy keyboards. What's more, Weston has arranged for them to go on a concert tour, where they're soon joined by a sexy club promoter, Arielle Kebbel. Frankly, O'Nan's problems don't seem too bad.
But while Gerwig and her friends in Lola Versus seem unaware of any lives beyond their own, The Brooklyn Brothers ... at least get out and about to parts of the Unites States Hollywood usually ignores. In among the self-conscious wisecracks, it also has flashes of heart-tugging emotion. I was touched by the hope and gratitude in O'Nan's eyes when Weston starts playing along to one of his songs, and by his well-balanced confrontation with the Bible-bashing McCarthy.
The Brooklyn Brothers ... is the funnier film, too. Lola Versus has its amusing lines, but the dialogue is nowhere near as clever as it thinks, and even Gerwig's goofy appeal wears off after you've watched her moping for an hour. If only she'd met O'Nan. They might have lived happily, if neurotically, ever after.
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
Suicide Squad's Margot Robbie: Jared Leto's now more petrifying when out of his Joker make-up
Novel Scarlett Johansson tried to ban, Grégoire Delacourt’s The First Thing You See, to be published in UK
The Girl in the Spider's Web, David Lagercrantz, review: Stieg Larsson's heroes return in a thrilling new intrigue
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs