“Lola” (“Lola vers la mer”)
Screened at the 2021 Reeling LGBTQ+ International Film Festival (7/10)
Significant and dramatic life events often make for strange affiliations. So it is in this intensely moving, often-outrageous road trip tale of a pre-op transsexual and her estranged father when it comes time for them to travel to the seaside childhood home of their deceased wife and mother to scatter her ashes. Their stormy journey is replete with a series of arguments, revelations, flashbacks and reconciliations, along with a touch of the surreal and subtle but undeniable hints of otherworldly intervention to facilitate peace between the quarreling parties. Some elements of the story are admittedly predictable, and portions of the second act tend to lag a bit at times, but director Laurent Micheli’s offering also takes some unexpected and deliciously intriguing twists and turns in getting viewers to the film’s destination, punctuated by a crisp screenplay loaded with biting, no-holds-barred dialogue, incisive insights, and more than a few genuinely heartfelt moments. This touching Belgian/French co-production is a delightful, affecting watch that, while not entirely wholly original, nevertheless comes across as a warm, feel-good story without ever becoming schmaltzy, manipulative or saccharinely sentimental. Bravo, “Lola”!