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.
arts + entsThere were towering ideas, some scintillating performances and revelatory grooves... our writers pick out their personal highlights
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
elephant appealPrince William signs up for our charity appeal
peoplePrepare to be entranced by worms as the molecular biologist gets ready to give the Royal Institution science lectures
elephant appealSo says man jailed for cutting off dead elephant's tusks
booksWe examine the best titles for teens
voicesPeople moan that Christmas is too commercial, the spirit lost. But it is a time to over-indulge, and always has been, says DJ Taylor
scienceResearchers teach border collie to understand sentences using more than 1,000 words
booksA Christmas story in six parts
travelWill high-value tourism help the workshops of this Renaissance city?
food + drinkA trifle without custard? Surely not! Nonsense – and here’s three to finish your festive meal that prove it
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Arts & Ents blogs
Heavy rain and years of 'benign neglect' may have caused Apollo Theatre roof collapse
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Justin Bieber isn't retiring from music after all
Nymphomaniac, film review: 'Despite the surreal sex scenes this is a serious drama'
The publisher who played with fire: the battle for control of Larsson's £30m legacy
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
- 1 Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 The publisher who played with fire: the battle for control of Larsson's £30m legacy
- 5 Police seize possessions of rough sleepers in crackdown on homelessness
- < Previous
- Next >