Run Lola Run (DVD)
Set against the gritty urban scenescape of Berlin and a pounding techno soundtrack, RUN LOLA RUN is a frenetic, inventive existential thriller that ex...
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Review of "Run Lola Run (DVD)"
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A short, sharp curiosity of a film, the German offering Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt) is an unrelenting assault on the senses that tells the story of twenty minutes - three times. Lola (Franka Potente) receives a call at home from her panicked boyfriend, Manni, an errand-boy for a Berlin gangster; he has mislaid the package he was supposed to be transporting and needs to raise 100,000 Deutschmarks before his boss catches up with him. Fearing for his life, he tells Lola that he plans to rob the supermarket opposite his phonebox. Attempting to advise Manni against this, Lola can only secure herself a twenty-minute delay; when the clock strikes midday, Manni will enter the supermarket - unless his girlfriend can get there with the money first.
With this, Lola starts running, trying to secure the money and reach Manni on the opposite side of town in twenty minutes. This race against the clock is the story Run Lola Run tells, with each of the three "runs" varying greatly in events and consequences; although there are often only seconds between each one. For instance, whereas on her first run she sprints clear of the dog that growls at her on her staircase, in the second instance she trips and falls - a difference that impacts upon the chance encounters that unfolded the first time around.
This structure, showing how minor differences can radically change destinies, isn't wholly original; Groundhog Day and Sliding Doors both explored the concept around the same time as Run Lola Run (released in 1998). The interpretation of the theme isn't quite as clear here as in those films; although it features the same repeating-events idea as the former, Groundhog Day used strictly self-contained "runs" - in Run Lola Run, the three versions of the story seem to overlap a little. When Lola first encounters a gun, she has no idea how to use it - come Run Two, she flips off the safety with confidence, suggesting she has learnt from her first experience. As such, the "rules" of the film are a little blurry, something we're probably not to see as crucial.
Instead, Run Lola Run is much more about the visceral, breathless experience the viewer goes through. In the first run especially, the director Tom Tykwer piles heavily on the senses, throwing together animation, multiple shots on one screen, numerous camera angles and a high-octane techno soundtrack that runs off and on throughout the film. It almost feels as if the director is experimenting with every style and effect available to him at this stage, such is the chaotic, jumbled impression it makes. The effect, though, is a strong, involving one, matching the pace and urgency of the runs - although at first at least, it threatens to overload the senses a bit. However, it stays just about the right side of the line, and calms down a fraction before the viewer develops a German techno migraine.
Packed into only an hour and a quarter, the breathless pace and jumbled, "what-if" narrative - that even manages to fit in flash-forwards of the lives that await those that Lola runs into - barely leaves time for the viewer to consider the performances on show. However, when it all winds down, one will reflect positively on the realisation of all the roles. There's scant time here for much development of character, although the three-lives structure does give us chance to see different sides of the personalities on show. It is Lola, of course, who spends most time on screen, and Franka Potente does plenty with this, showcasing her talents as the eponymous breathless heroine.
Reflecting on Run Lola Run, it's hard to know what the film is trying to say, if anything. There are certainly plenty of interesting ideas and themes being touched upon here, but Tykwer seems content to play with these concepts, throwing them almost casually around without trying to provide answers for them. This isn't a problem; the opening scenes of the film contain a quote that alludes to the pointless, cyclical nature of questions (which simply lead to more questions, and so on), so perhaps we can take this to be the message of the film, insomuch as there is one; what is simply is, and the experience of something is more important than questioning what it is or why it happens. In any case, the film certainly is a hugely enjoyable assault on the senses; it's admirably concise, doing everything it needs to without padding, waffling and pontificating, it's consequently always gripping and is full of carefree style with a faint undercurrent of dark humour. Run Lola Run is an unusual film, certainly - but it's one of the best and most original odd films you're likely to see.
Product Information : Run Lola Run (DVD)
Manufacturer's product descriptionSet against the gritty urban scenescape of Berlin and a pounding techno soundtrack, RUN LOLA RUN is a frenetic, inventive existential thriller that explores the life-altering impact of seemingly inconsequential actions. Beautiful, hip, and young, poor Lola has but 20 minutes to locate a missing bag containing 100,000 Deutsche marks or come up with the money some other way--if she can't, gangsters are going to kill her boyfriend. A pulse-raising race against time, the film employs a startling array of innovative techniques to present three separate scenarios, all departing from a single split-second decision Lola makes. Franka Patente, who also sings on the soundtrack, is mesmerizing as Lola.
Listed on Ciao since: 13/06/2000