Lola Versus premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival on Tuesday night. It is the fourth time that Greta Gerwig has been introduced as a potential studio star. And luckily for her, this is likely to be a movie that people actually remember her for.
Greta Gerwig has gotten mini famous for having some large roles in some very small movies. She’s been called an It Girl, Mumblecore’s Meryl Streep and “the definitive screen actress of her generation.”
But that doesn’t mean that most of the movie going public knows her name. It’s been nearly two years since New York Magazine declared that Greta Gerwig was going mainstream. But a month ago when I said I was excited to see her in Damsels In Distress, neither of Crushable’s editors knew who I was talking about.
This was after she starred with Ben Stiller in Greenberg, Russel Brand in Arthur and as Natalie Portman‘s friend and roommate in No Strings Attached.
To prove this point, she told The Daily News last month that on a recent flight, the guy next to her was watching Arthur and never even noticed that she was the person on screen half of the movie.
Then again, this is what they did to her in Arthur:
And that’s sort of the problem with putting someone known for realism into movies that are completely detached from reality.
In Greenberg, Noah Baumbach went in the opposite direction. It was a role that could have put Gerwig’s face infront of millions of people who had never heard of Baghead or Hannah Takes The Stairs. And he made Gerwig gain 15-20 pounds for it. Her acting got great reviews in the movie. But it wasn’t much help for her career as a hot, young ingenue.
For example, here’s how Variety writer Todd McCarthy summed up her looks in a review of Greenberg:
“A big young woman who’s attractive enough but not at all in the usual glamorous-actress mode.”
Ouch. To be clear. She wasn’t overweight in Greenberg. But she did look like a normal person. And that is completely out of place in most of the movies made today, where starlets are nipped, tucked and lit to some studio head’s idea of perfection.
Even in Whit Stilman‘s Damsels In Distress, which opened last month, the director’s characteristic artifice became a stumbling block for Gerwig’s best assets. Damsels was all dialogue where Gerwig is almost all heart. And on its opening weekend, Damsels only brough in $58,589.
Lola Versus is being released in the summer by Fox Searchlight, the studio that got a huge hit out of the Zoe Deschanel vehicle (500) Days Of Summer in 2009.
And luckily for everyone, Daryl Wein (who directed Lola Versus), actually knows what to do with his star. Lola isn’t a groundbreaking premise. It’s about a nearly 30-something woman in New York who gets dumped right before her wedding. After making some dumb girl mistakes in the big city, she finds her way again with the help of her friends. But the script, co-written by Wein and Zoe Lister Jones is light, quick and truly funny.
To give some perspective — Lister Jones also stars as Lola’s quirky best friend, a role she also plays on NBC’s Whitney. But while the pacing of NBC’s sitcom often makes it feel like she is on fast forward, in Lola Versus Lister Jones lands all her jokes. And steals the screen whenever she’s on it.
But Lola Versus is the kind of movie that lives or dies by its star. And Gerwig delivers. Between this and the new Woody Allen movie To Rome With Love that opens June 22, lots of people will soon know who Gerwig is soon. And have positive associations with her.
Which is a good thing. Hollywood could use a lot more Greta Gerwig. Once they figure out what to do with her.