She plays the title character, a twenty-nine-year-old woman dumped by her fiancée as they plan their wedding. For the first time since high school she finds herself single. People say the usual things to her like “being alone breeds character,” and she goes to Yelp’s Number One Best Bar in a Scary Neighborhood with her best friend Alice (Zoe Lister Jones) in an attempt to meet new people. Still she’s not ready to have a relationship. “I can’t be picked up right now,” she says to one potential suitor, “I’m in a really bad place.” After some drunken sex and a fling with her best friend (Hamish Linklater)—“I’m slutty,” she says, “but I’m a good person.”—she comes to realize that she can’t love anyone else until she learns to loves herself.
Lola is a character we’ve seen before. She ‘s a New Yorker with hip friends who are always ready with a quick line. She’s Carrie Bradshaw before she met Mr. Big; the kind of hot mess who shows up at the front door at 4 am… drunk.
But for all the familiarity the character of Lola brings with her, the actress playing her never falls into the rut of playing a stereotype. Gerwig is hands down the most natural actor working today. There isn’t an ounce of artifice about her, even though her drunk act could use a little work, and even in the film’s most clichéd moments she brings realism and a genuine sense of character to the story.
Many of the characters are nicely drawn—co-writer and co-star Zoe Lister Jones gives herself most of the film’s best lines as struggling actress and pill head Alice—but Gerwig is the anchor.
In her hands the movie becomes less a comedy—although there are laughs—and more a look at self realization. And that’s why she’ll never be a mainstream movie star, and that’s lucky for us as long as she keeps making movies like this.