One of the hardest things to do in life is to let go of a love relationship that has ended. We get used to being with that person and have grown accustomed to intimacy, sharing, and caring. When this partnership fails, we are assaulted by a barrage of emotions including loss, blame, guilt, criticism, anger, and regret. Many of us are immersed into a period of extreme confusion as we are forced to re-enter the single world. This universal experience is at the core of Lola Versus, a dramady set in New York City and directed by Daryl Wein. He co-wrote the screenplay with Zoe Lister-Jones.
Lola (Greta Gerwig) is a 29-year-old who has been living for many years with her boyfriend Luke (Joel Kinnaman), an artist. She is an English major in graduate school working on her dissertation on silence and poetry. Luke brings elation into her life with a surprising proposal of marriage. Lola begins planning the wedding with her mother (Debra Winger) and father (Bill Pullman). She is blessed with two loyal friends: Alice (Zoe Lister Jones) and Henry (Hamish Linklater). Alice is always there for Lola when she needs someone to talk to or help her on a project. Henry is Luke's buddy and has known Lola for years. She sees him as her best male confidant.
Lola, her parents, and two friends are shocked when Luke breaks off their engagement several weeks before the scheduled wedding. He realizes that he is not ready for the commitment and responsibilities of marriage. Lola descends into a deep depression brought on by the shattering of her planned future and the challenge of starting all over in the dating game. At first, she can't get Luke out of her mind: she is obsessed with the loss of the great sex they had. After avoiding his calls, she has dinner with him and then intercourse. Lola realizes that carrying on this way will not work.
This dramady covers about 12 months of misery and messiness as the lead character makes one bad decision after another. Next she turns to Henry, an aspiring rock singer, for support in her new life. When he reveals that he has always had feelings for her, Lola again satisfies her sexual desires by making love with Henry. And then there is the odd evening she spends with a stranger who gave her his number after meeting her at the grocery store. Is Lola a sex addict? No, it would not be fair to put it that way. Let's just say that she turns to sex as the best antidote to the pain and the humiliation that have come with her broken heart.
Much of the suffering we experience when love ends and relationships fall apart is self-inflicted. We struggle and squirm about clinging to what we once had but now is gone. In When Things Fall Apart, the American-born Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chodron observes:
"When we think that something is going to bring us pleasure, we don't know what's really going to happen. When we think something is going to give us misery, we don't know. Letting there be room for not knowing is the most important thing of all. We try to do what we think is going to help. But we don't know. We never know if we're going to fall flat or sit up tall. When there's a big disappointment, we don't know if that's the end of the story. It may be just the beginning of a great adventure."
Lola Versus offers a short, snappy, and poignant introductory course to the art of letting go. See our "Related Content" for more on this important practice.
Special features on the DVD include an outtakes audio commentary by director/co-writer Daryl Wein and actress/co-writer Zoe Lister-Jones.