Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Run Lola Run

For once I totally agree with the review quotes on the DVD case - this is a breathtaking film. It's only 77 minutes long but you need to stop then for a rest! The film opens with some of the characters in a crowd outside a football stadium asking philosophical questions about humanity and how we know what truth is. Starring Franka Potenta as Lola (Bourne Trilogy [Marie] and House [Lydia]) the then girlfriend of self-taught Director Tom Tykwer, the film moves at relentless pace as it tells the story of Lola's dramatic and breath-taking efforts to save her boyfriend Manni, from mob execution in 20 minutes! All she needs to do is get €100,000 and deliver it to Manni down-town within 20 minutes - simples!

How can a film of 77 minutes duration cover only 20 minutes in real time? That's the clever bit. For some reason Lola doesn't use the €100 in her pocket for a taxi, but decides to run everywhere. She's quite an athlete. After she receives the phone call from a distressed Manni she runs helter-skelter to the bank where her father works - surely he can release €100,000? The clever thing is that the story from that point on is repeated twice so the viewer gets three different outcomes. The sprint to the bank is slightly different each time and the outcomes are markedly different.

I'm not going to spoil the story for you but one piece of advice the film dispenses is to avoid buying a white BMW! Now, if the plot and the way the story is told has got your attention, then the way in which it is presented will hook you and reel you in with consummate ease. The physical pace of Lola's relentless running is matched by a techno soundtrack with the vocals provided by Potenta. This is backed up with stunning visuals that cut and jump at an equally frenetic pace. As Lola runs from the apartment block the camera enters a TV that is playing a cartoon of her running in descending spirals down a seemingly endless staircase. On the street as she passes people we are treated to a fast changing montage of still images depicting their future and life outcome. This changes on each of her three encounters with them.

The story is very much about how small seemingly unimportant events - quite often seen as peripheral to the central thing - can determine major outcomes in unexpected ways. The film is essentially one long "What if?" question. The Director explores a number of possible outcomes to a simple situation - €100,000 in 20 minutes when the life of someone you love is on the line. There is a short scene in the film where Lola and Manni are in bed and they ask each other a series of questions about love, commitment and their relationship. This interlude from the relentless physical running helps to re-engage the story with the philosophical questions posed right at the beginning by mirroring the physical with intellectual and emotional questions which are running in the background.

I can imagine that this is a film that you will either like or dislike strongly - it will not permit fence-sitting. The actors and their characters will essentially appeal to a younger audience and the visual style and relentless soundtrack also push the film in that direction.

I think this is an excellent piece of cinema. A simple story well told - three times. If you haven't seen it - go and find a copy of the DVD. I'll give it 8.5/10.

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