2006Director: Joe Swanberg
Cast: Kevin Bewersdorf, Joe Swanberg, C. Mason Wells
o No No Nononono! You can’t help think that same thought at various times throughout LOL. People are calling the movies that Joe Swanberg and various cohorts are making mumblecore. If so, LOL is the cringecore variant—a movie that takes Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as an obvious touchstone for its comedic effect. Or so you’d like to believe. Otherwise, you come away from LOL despairing for Generation Y and the pernicious effect technology has—and will—wreak on it. How can characters so self-absorbed be so completely un-self-aware?
LOL’s plot follows three male leads (Kevin Bewersdorf, Joe Swanberg, C. Mason Wells) as they navigate various relationships. Bewersdorf is a musician intent on going on tour and meeting an internet model at its first stop, Swanberg a hapless guy in a long-term relationship, Wells an equally hapless guy in a long-distance relationship. Their stories mildly interact: Swanberg stops by to make some sounds to be sampled in Bewesdorf’s next musical composition, Wells catches rides from Swanberg in an unfamiliar city, while he attempts to figure out how to assuage his loneliness. But, for the most part, the dudes are on their own—and that’s too bad, considering each seem to be emotionally stunted in fundamental ways.
Bewersdorf’s story is perhaps the most cringe-worthy. His “relationship” with an internet model seemingly consists of him e-mailing her. And never hearing back. Which leads him, in the movie’s moment of climactic cringe, when he is unable to get to a working computer to call Swanberg to have him check his e-mail for him. All the while, of course, Bewersdorf seems to ignore the fact that there’s a cute girl in the house with the non-operational computer that seems to be really into him. Maybe she’s just not his type? We never really find out—as Bewersdorf is unflinchingly uncommunicative throughout the film, an inscrutable anti-hero.
The film’s two other stories hold their share of lessons, but hardly the same level of interest. Swanberg’s “just ten more minutes with the e-mail, dear” and Wells’ “come on, send me sexy pics of yourself on my cell phone, so I don’t have to think of other girls” shtick is underdeveloped and, consequently, feels slight. That interludes featuring the music video compositions that Bewersdorf is ostensibly working on overshadow Wells’ entire arc isn’t much of a help. But, overall, LOL is a promising second feature from a director on the rise. Swanberg’s composition and directorial style seems to have improved from Kissing on the Mouth and, after seeing Hannah Takes the Stairs recently, it’s clear that he’s only going to get better. With extensive extras and luscious packaging, Benten Films has made LOL more essential than it really is—and, really, what more can you ask?
LOL is now available on DVD.