LOL (2006)

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 03/22/06 14:32:30

"Too busy chatting to actually connect."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: Ladies, do you have a hard time separating your man from his favorite video game / cell phone / online activities? Guys, do you sometimes find yourself ogling some internet porn -- when you have a perfectly cool (and entirely real) woman sleeping the next room?? Sure, we all love our new-fangled technological gizmos, but does our collective obsession with global communication impede our ability to make, y'know, actual HUMAN connections? Joe Swanberg's "LOL" has a little something to say on the subject.

I'll admit it: I check my email every few hours. And the few nights I recently spent in Texas -- without internet access -- felt like I was living in the stone age. Oh yes, how quickly we become more or less addicted to our newest and most useful technologies. Heck, how did anyone ever attend a film festival without the use of cell phones? It must have been absolute bedlam!

The second feature from Chicago indie-maker Joe Swanberg (after Kissing on the Mouth), LOL is a freshly unpolished and vibrantly rough-around-the-edges piece of low-budget filmmaking. Boasting a more cohesive plot structure than Kissing, LOL tells the story of three inter-connected young men, and the ways in which their over-reliance on cell phones, emails, text messages, and porn sites have pretty much distracted them from the most primal urge imaginable ... the desire to get laid. From one dude's never-ending love affair with his laptop to another guy's dependence on the internet to acquire a sexpot hottie (when a perfectly charming "plain jane" waits in the wings for some attention), LOL covers its bases in efficient, compelling fashion.

One of my favorite components of the flick involves a young musician who pieces his tracks together using only nonsensical mouth-sounds from his friends and acquaintances. One man's solo spouting of gibberish turns into a symphony of complementary noises. I could say Swanberg does this to illustrate how appealing it is to be part of a communal experience, and that what might seem silly to a lone person begins to feel a whole lot more comfortable when other people join in ... but that's just me fishing for my own specific subtext. Your own mileage may vary, of course.

Stocked with low-key and entirely believable characters and a sly (but not nasty) sense of derision towards the modern tools that keep us apart, LOL is, by my estimation, a solid step up from the director's first flick, and I feel pretty confident that the guy has something even better lined up for his next outing.

Smart, witty, insightful, and dry, "LOL" takes aim at insta-communication and makes a pretty solid case that, despite our being able to reach anybody at any time, most of us still lack the ability to really 'reach' anyone at all.

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