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)"
Yikes! It's been a while. A new job role has taken up most of my time recently but my reviewing days are back...
“Run Lola Run” or “Lola Rennt” in its native Germany language was a 1998 film written and directed by Tom Tykwer and marked an international breakthrough for him. It is also one of the coolest films I have ever seen. Lola’s boyfriend Manni has got himself in a horrible pickle. A simple exchange of diamonds for 100,000 Deutschmarks goes without a hitch – the delivery of said 100,000 Deutschmarks to some very unforgiving people however does not quite go to plan. Manni, unable to wait for Lola who was supposed to pick him up after the exchange, accidentally leaves the money on a subway train to be snaffled up by a tramp. With his meeting set for 12pm Manni calls Lola for help. With Manni threatening to rob a nearby supermarket at exactly 12pm Lola has just 20 minutes to find the money and reach Manni before it is too late. But what if you don’t have just one chance to get it right, but three?This is very much a film about fate and chain reactions and how the slightest seemingly insignificant event can have far reaching consequences. This film allows us to live those frantic 20 minutes of Lola’s life three times over, and how just the subtlest of differences during the opening minute utterly transforms the ensuing events to result in three entirely different outcomes as the clock strikes 12pm. This film also allows a thorough exploration of a butterfly effect style chain reaction by seeing how Lola’s different actions in each universe have an effect on the lives of the people she bumps in to and also how despite different events occurring some things are simple inescapable despite coming to pass in a different way. The things I particularly love about this film is that it offers no explanations, it is simply observational in nature allowing you to interpret it in any way you want and people will undoubtedly take many different things away from this film. I for one feel almost like each new universe is a do-over, with Lola having some freaky ability that allows her to reset time until it suits her as there are very occasionally subtle signs of learning from past events especially as there are a few odd moments in the film where she is almost able to manipulate events through some high pitched screaming, but others may see it as simply three different possibilities and with any of them being the actual reality with the others as simply what ifs. Either way, it offers food for thought.
The style of this film is by far the most noticeable thing about it. Practically any conceivable film technique you can think of is almost certainly on display here with random and often grotesque animations, split screens, black and white flashbacks, red tinted memories, flash forward montages, slow motion…it is probably best described as a frenetic melee of time jumping mania through insane cinematography. I’m not entirely sure about the significance of the animation, though it is used very sparingly – perhaps it was to offer the actress that plays Lola, Franka Potente, who spends an outrageous amount of time running in this film a chance to rest and to avoid a few stunts along the way, but for whatever the reason Tykwer included them, they were quite visually striking and so well worth their inclusion. The essence of the story arc is one of a desperate race against time and really it is a non-stop thrill ride of twists and turns that you get to repeat not once, but twice, and as a result what seems at first like a completely chaotic assortment of contrasting and potentially mismatched film techniques in fact works harmoniously together towards creating one of the most fast-paced films I have ever seen and I was practically suffering from hypoxia at the end as I could barely find a good moment to breath.It is always hard to tell exactly how good the acting is in a foreign film as emotion often gets a little lost in translation and a for those with a complete lack of understanding to what the words spoken actually mean, but my instincts tell me the acting in this film was of a pretty high standard with an almost surreal and off-beat edge to everything. Franka Potente, probably most recognisable as Marie from the Jason Bourne films, was simply enthralling and often magnetic at times in this film as Lola. She presents a striking figure with bright red hair contrasted with a blue top and green trousers and she had to do a scary amount of running which left me feeling exhausted on her behalf, but her desperation was palpable throughout, and she runs a full gamut of emotions as, despite just being privy to the briefest of insights into her life, we can see the dynamics of her relationship with her father as a source of strife which adds a whole new emotional dimension to her character. Potente is quite simply brilliant at portraying this strong yet vulnerable, independent and extremely resourceful young woman and is the glue that holds the whole film together.
The majority of the other characters, and to a certain extent that includes Manni, are simply supporting characters and yet somehow, and I can’t really explain how, they all feel of massive importance in their own way, perhaps due to each playing their parts in the chain reactions that unfold throughout this film and how they factor in to this exploration into fate and destiny. Some of the flash forwards for these seemingly insignificant characters are quite amusing and also a bit disturbing at times and yet still a fascinating idea. Moritz Bleibtreu plays the bumbling and panicking Manni, and whilst being an idiot, you do still find yourself rooting for him and I think Bleibtreu captured him very well. Again, despite the limited time available for character development you can easily spot the connection and chemistry between Manni and Lola and that adds to the tension of the film regarding whether Manni’s impending doom can be staved off or not. The other characters are also fascinating in their own right despite having nothing more than cameo roles which is a truly odd experience when watching a film as most supporting roles are simply forgotten at the end but these characters stay with you. But one thing they could all do with learning about is basic road traffic safety – half of what occurred in this film could have been avoided with a simple glance to the left then the right, but maybe this is an endemic issue in Germany?One filming technique I didn’t mention before was the soundtrack which is just as explosive as the rest of the film. Intriguingly, the majority of the score, apart from a couple of tracks, were composed and performed by Tom Tykwer himself with the vocals often performed by Franka Potente as well. The soundtrack style was pretty much grungy electronica often simmering in the background before erupting manically during the most action packed parts of the film, particularly whilst Lola was running. This soundtrack was excellent at ratcheting up the tension wherever necessary as well as becoming almost mournfully orchestral during the more tragic moments of the film and really helped to enhance the fluctuating moods throughout, so this is just another string to add to Tykwer’s talent bow and really caps off what is a fabulously well produced and stunningly creative film. The setting is probably also worth mentioning, with the filming location being set all around Berlin and there are a few nice scenic shots which shows how beautiful Berlin is in places, but mostly what you get is a sense of the architecture and the general and ordinary atmosphere on the streets which is quite appealing.
This film probably won’t appeal to everyone as it could just be a little too surreal and possibly a little too cluttered for some with an unusually high amount of filming techniques, but for me it was a thrilling, high octane ride from beginning to end full of subtle yet poignant turns of events triggered by the smallest changes in character decisions and timing with a feverish and relentless style with just the occasional periods of respite (more resembling the calm before the storm) that really captures the imagination and made this one of the coolest films I’ve yet to see. This film is completely open to interpretation and has many discussion points, so you can either love it or hate it, but you will almost certainly be left pondering on many questions and concepts afterwards which I feel is a real achievement for any film. For me, this is a truly original film full to the brim with entertainment and thrills and as a result is a must see for any fans of cinema and indie films.
The DVD & Bonus Features
Due to a few violent scenes and some choice language this film is certified as a 15, but I’m sure by today’s standards they would have got away with a 12A. This DVD does show its age a bit at nearly 15 years old with the menu options, particularly as there aren’t any awe inspiring extras here. The default setting for the DVD is to play the movie with English dubbing which is just highly annoying as it’s always so distracting hearing silly voices that are clearly not the actor’s own talking completely out of sync with what is occurring on screen, but the option is there for those that hate reading subtitles. Thankfully, you can watch the film as intended by selecting German as the language under the Languages / Audio Set-Up menu, and then selecting the Subtitles menu to be switched on to English (the only option). You can also select specific scenes to watch from the Scene Selections menu.The final option on the menu us the Extra Features:
* Theatrical Trailer – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I do not understand the point of including a trailer for a film you now own as you’re not going to watch the trailer and then suddenly decide not to watch the film, and if you’ve watched the film already, why would you care about the trailer? Anyway, the trailer is in fact just as weird as the film itself, by not revealing anything about the plot and simply being a random montage of unconnected scenes to leave the watcher as in the dark about the film as they were before they watched the trailer.* Director and Cast Commentary – here you can switch the commentary on and then re-watch the film now with some voices completely invading every scene. To be fair though, if you are interested in behind the scenes insights this is a good way to get it, and you can pick up some interesting facts from listening to Tykwer and Potente commenting on everything going on, so if you’ve got some time to kill this bonus feature does have some merit.
* Music Video: “Believe" by Franka Potente – this video expands on one of the songs played in the film and is based upon film footage and new footage. It is actually like a proper song and everything! It again has an electronica style and is probably quite good if you like that sort of thing, which alas I don’t really. Still an unusual, though given the nature of this entire film, an entirely expected addition to the DVD.* Talent Profiles – this section simply gives a quick biography and filmography for Tom Tykwer, Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu which is great, and now tremendously out of date so if you’re really that interested go to IMDB.com.
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