The only word I can find that adequately does Run Lola Run justice is “stunning”. This is a film that batters your senses, mixing a dizzying amount of visual style with a breakneck story and a pumping techno soundtrack to leave the viewer staggered, reeling and, well, stunned. This is the film that introduced the world to the gorgeous Franka Potente (shamefully squandered in the Bourne films and that odious tripe Creep), and this is the film that I like to think sums up the late 90’s.
Run, Lola, Run (Lola Rennt) (R) 81 min.
Written by: Jarv
Run Lola Run is a film about chance. I know that sounds a bit unlikely, but the basic premise of the film is that Lola’s imbecilic boyfriend Manni (The Baader-Meinhoff Complex’s Moritz Bleibtreu) has managed to land himself in a world of hurt. He owes some angry drug dealers 100,000 marks, as a direct result of a cretinous blunder, and Lola has precisely 20 minutes to raise the cash for him, if she fails then he’s to be killed. The film plays 3 different scenarios of Lola’s madcap sprint across Berlin to try to raise the cash.
The first telling of the story actually came as a bit of a surprise to me on first viewing. I saw it almost completely unspoiled, with my only knowledge of it being a brief review in FHM (I was only 19, leave me alone) that described it in glowing terms, but revealed nothing of the plot. We all know how this type of story is meant to work: Lola raises the cash, saves the day, possibly the dealers die. So when the film cut into the animation sequence of Lola running down the stairs and the soundtrack goes ballistic, I have to say I was caught completely off guard. Then when the story concluded in roughly 20 minutes to reset to the start I was somewhat confused. That isn’t to say I wasn’t enjoying myself, because I was hopping about in my seat with a wide grin plastered across my face (wondering if an E would make the experience even better, actually), just that it wasn’t what I was expecting. By the conclusion of the film I had an almost irrepressible urge to watch it again immediately (and I’m glad I didn’t give in to that one).
Potente’s performance as Lola is hard to describe, and hard to criticise. The nature of the film meant that she had to run (at a fair old clip) over 20 miles per day. Even typing that sentence makes me want a pint and a cigarette. Therefore the film requires a significant amount of physical acting, and a certain presence but doesn’t really give Potente a great chance to shine. That her performance could even be described as memorable is, I believe, a testament to how good she is in this film. Bleibtreu has a similarly thankless task as Manni is a complete dingbat, and that he manages to elicit any sympathy is clearly the mark of a fine actor- he was also excellent as Andreas Baader, another unsympathetic character.
However, the star of Run Lola Run is writer/ director Tom Tykwer. Run Lola Run is redolent with his stylistic choices and his flashy editing. This is a film that operates best as an adrenaline rush, there’s a frantic sense of urgency to proceedings that is entirely down to Twyker’s decisions. He hasn’t, I’m sorry to say, made anything remotely as good as this again, but Run Lola Run is a film that would top almost any resume, so that isn’t surprising.
Run Lola Run is also a film that rewards repeat viewing. I’ve seen it many times now, and each time I spot something new that reinforces the themes, or notice a tiny detail that has implications for the film. It’s ostensibly a superficial film, but if you scratch at the surface then it has concealed and worthwhile depths. It may appear to be a celluloid amphetamine, but it is actually a well thought out treatise on chance and the implications of our decisions. It’s entirely up to the viewer which of the three versions of the story is the real one, and I think which one you decide depends entirely upon what you bring to the film. Personally, I always go for the happy ending, even if that is the most unlikely one.
Overall, I heartily recommend Run Lola Run. Tykwer’s adrenalised masterpiece is a joy of film. It’s a heart-pumping thriller with hidden depths, and one of the most enjoyable films of the decade. I can happily sit back and have it molest my eyeballs and pound on my ear drums as Run Lola Run is a frankly incomparable film experience and a truly great work, and far more than just a brilliant assault on the senses.
Simply fabulous, and I believe this is the only review of Run Lola Run ever written that doesn’t use the word “kinetic”.