Retro Film Review: Run Lola Run (Lola rennt, 1998)

in #aaa2 months ago


Few years ago one of the film magazines in my country ran an article about German film history which tried to sum it up as a story of three Lolas - heroines of the films that, in some sort of way, represented three important periods. The last one was the heroine of Run Lola Run, 1998 film directed by Tom Tykwer. Their contemporaries, including the writer of
the article, took this film as a proof that German cinema enjoy another golden age. It won rave reviews, the soundtrack - aggressively promoted on European music TV stations - topped the charts and the box-office results were good even outside German-speaking countries.

The plot of the film is relatively simple. Manni (played by Moritz Bleibtreu) is a Berlin youth who works as a courier for vicious drug- dealing characters. One day he accidentally loses a bag containing 100,000 DM of syndicate's money. With twenty minutes before the scheduled delivery he calls his girlfriend Lola (played by Franka Potente), informs her about his predicament and says that he will rob a liquor store in a desperate bid to make up for his loss. Lola has exactly twenty minutes to prevent that folly or try to find some alternative source of money. The plot than shows Lola's efforts three times - in each of those occasions one of random and seemingly unimportant actions leads to completely different outcome.

The "gimmick" behind Run Lola Run isn't particularly original. In the same year it was used by British romantic comedy Sliding Doors. In Tykwer's film the concept is more explicitly explained to the audience and the plot is, therefore, less confusing. However, the real reason why this film won audiences and critics is in its palpable energy. Accompanied by techno music and populated by young and likeable "hip" protagonists, Run Lola Run is very pleasing to the eyes and ears of its viewers. Tykwer also shows great talent as a director. He throws every trick in the book in order to prevent the variations of the same story from being repetitive - each is told in slightly different style. However, with his emphasis on style he ignores the film's substance. Thankfully, Run Lola Run is not only fast-paced but also a very short and this leaves audience with little opportunity to reflect on protagonists not being properly fleshed out or some of the situations being too preposterous to be taken seriously. However, despite being far from a masterpiece, Run Lola Run deserved its place in history by serving one important purpose. With this film German cinema was triumphantly brought back to the world's stage, adding another iconic image - crimson-haired Franka Potente - to its long and glorious history.

RATING: 6/10 (++)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on February 16th 2005)

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Critic: AA