OldKingClancy posted a MOVIE REVIEW item: 8 days ago

Run Lola Run


Directed by: Tom Tykwer
Written by: Tom Tykwer
Cast: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Genre: Thriller
Official Site:
Plot: Run bitch. RUN!


Like a lot of cinematic media, I’ve seen parody’s and references to Run Lola Run, long before actually seeing Run Lola Run. I still had it on the docket cause the premise sounded interesting and having checked it out, there’s actually a lot more to it than I expected, it’s one of those ‘Once in a Generation’ type films, the movie that running into the frame with a mad idea and somehow pulls it off.

The film opens with Lola and her boyfriend Manni in trouble, Manni is a small-time criminal working for Ronnie and has just collected 100,000 Marks on his latest job, however after Lola’s moped is stolen and she was unable to pick him up, Manni took the subway and lost the money trying to evade the police. Now he has 20 minutes to find the money or Ronnie will kill him, not wanting to lose him because of her own misfortune, Lola promises to find the money, somehow.

What follows is three separate ‘runs’ Lola takes to try and find the money, when one fails she tries again taking a different approach, all three involve her father, his mistress, a cyclist, a bank, a dog, a car accident, an ambulance and a thief, but all three are different enough that you can see that she’s learning from her mistakes, even if she doesn’t necessarily remember anything.... It makes sense in the film.

Aside from the unique semi-time-travel structure the simplicity of the story – Get the money in a time limit – allows that same structure to take centre-stage and taps into the very human question; ‘What if life had a re-do?’ There’s some questions over the nature of Free Will in a life where each decision just changes an already pre-set reality or if the determination of knowing the worst outcome is what pushes Lola to her ultimate goal, but I’m not smart enough or well-versed enough in this film to touch upon those in detail.

Despite the limited nature of the film, Lola’s run has her interacting with a large majority of similar people in different circumstances, one of the running themes of the film is the cause/effect relationship with several passersby having their life quickly shown through in different ways after their brush with Lola, for example one older woman with a pram is shown losing her baby to child services and stealing another baby, winning the lottery and living a life of luxury, and converting herself to God in all three runs and the only thing that changes is when Lola ran into her.

Despite Ronnie being the main driving antagonist, it’s Lola’s dad who turns out to be the real villain, his mistress is pregnant, he’s ready to up and leave Lola and her mother and passes off her need for 100,000 Marks as childish nonsense. The first run leaves you with such a bad taste in your mouth that each subsequent run has you wanting Lola to best him just to teach him a lesson more than actually getting the money from him.

Manni role is fairly limited compared to Lola’s but we see enough to understand why she wants to save him, obviously her own guilt plays a factor but Manni presents himself in a very realistic way. He comes across like the type of guy who just found himself involved with criminals, his fear and exasperation come across as genuine as one would expect when you have 20 minutes to find 100,000 Marks. At the end of each run there’s a little aside with Lola and Manni in bed discussing love and death – both prevalent themes in the film – which helps shape their relationship outside of the 20 minute runs and allows us to see why Lola takes the runs and more importantly, why she’s taking several of them.

Lola herself – played by Franka Potente – makes for a solid protagonist, while she doesn’t have much of an arc across three 20 minute segments; she still manages to grow enough between each one to keep her endeared to you. In Run 1 she takes a desperate approach, hoping that sheer hopelessness might win through, in Run 2 she’s more forceful, making bolder choices as a result and in Run 3 she’s more focussed a lot of the mistakes and stumbles she makes are avoided though new ones are still there. You’re with Lola because you want to see her succeed this impossible task, but watching her learn without learning presents an interesting development for a character that’s being pushed into situations she shouldn’t be in.

Director Tom Tykwer – who was the Non-Wachowski working on Cloud Atlas – presents the film with a very fast paced editing style, since a lot of the film is repeated he makes sure that the familiar elements are passed by but still leaves room for any changes and their effects to be noted – such as when or if a car accident happens. The quick-editing also captures Lola’s frantic mind as she tries to find out a way to get the money and fast, in a turn away from conventional pace building, the film actually gets slower in the end, signalling Lola’s more focussed mindset and less hectic decision making.

Because the film has its own unique property in the rewinding time mechanic, Tykwer takes a few more risks surrounding just how the mechanic actually worked, while Lola maintained no physical memory of each run, there were parts that did follow-through, for example in the first run Manni teaches Lola about removing the safety on a gun while in the second she already knows about it. There’s a few instances of an almost supernatural force at work like that throughout the film, Lola possesses an impossible scream which bends the rules of chances in her favour, impossible run-ins happen that can only be described as karmic rebalancing and a little blind old lady in Manni’s storyline leads to a final showdown by pointing him in the right direction. The result is a film that doesn’t so much as embrace its concept but touches on it enough to hint that there’s more at play here, it’s a much more interesting experience because of it.

The beauty of Run Lola Run’s simplicity is that if you want to take it as a unique and fast-paced action film then you can do so and not lose anything, or if you want to take it as an example of chaos theory working in the realms of free will then there’s enough here to open a discussion, either way you’ll get something out of the film, it’s entertainment with a brain and that’s something we’ve been missing out on recently.


Other reviews of this film: JoBlo (8/10) , North is Up (10/10) > Display all

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