Run Lola Run (Lola rennt)

Director: Tom Tykwer
Writer: Tom Tykwer
Year: 1998
Cast: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup

★★★★☆

A wise philosopher, who happened to be staying on my sofa for a few days, told me that we will continue living until we accept that it is our time to die. Life is a continual refusal to die. We say no, no, no, and then, at one point, it becomes our time to say yes, and we die in a moment of acceptance. Run Lola Run presents a similar philosophy, giving its characters a degree of control over their destiny. “Nein,” says Lola (Franka Potente), and, despite bleeding to death, she lives.

Run Lola Run is an overtly philosophical film. It opens with choice quotations from T.S. Eliot’s Little Gidding, never a bad thing, although it is unfortunately in German, and Sepp Herberger, one of football’s most original intellectuals. It asks a series of questions about the mysteries of the human race before any action can begin. But, the ball is round. The film is 90 (well, 81) minutes. And even if we end up where we started, we have to get going just the same.

Do I seriously have to run again?

A snappy telephone exchange between Lola and her hapless boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), establishes the conflict. Manni owes a dangerous man 100,000 marks, which he clumsily left on a train to be picked up by a hobo. Lola is partly responsible as she was his getaway driver and turned up too late. He has 20 minutes to come up with the money, and his brightest idea is to rob a supermarket. It is up to Lola to rescue him from his fate. But she is going to have to run.

The running scenes are endless but fantastic. Franka Potente looks wonderful in motion, with her bright red hair, bright green trousers, and unreliable bra strap slipping off and on beneath her vest. The soundtrack is great as well, recorded by writer/director Tom Twyker, and it perfectly compliments the playful intensity of the action. Twyker’s direction is inventive and varied, switching between different types of film, animation, and Polaroid snaps which outline the futures of a cast of minor characters that Lola flashes by. Due to the film’s repetitive nature, it is important for Twyker to keep things interesting, and he definitely succeeds in that. The pace is varied, switching effortlessly from hectic running sequences to soap opera drama to lazy pillow-talk philosophising. There are plenty of good jokes too, which rely heavily on dramatic irony.

The main sequence is repeated three times, with subtle changes that have far-reaching effects. A moment’s difference can make all the difference. An innocuous decision can change your future and the future of everyone around you. Some things are meant to be. Others are not.

There is nothing groundbreaking in any of this. The phrase MTV generation pops up regularly when reading about the film, and it is apt in the more positive sense of the phrase. Run Lola Run is fast-paced, bite-sized philosophy, but it’s presented in a way that still seems fresh and interesting. It’s a riff rather than a symphony, but one that I expect my wise philosopher would appreciate.

Rob Dickie

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One thought on “Run Lola Run (Lola rennt)

  1. hey, i really liked your review! you hit the nail on the head, bite-sized philosophy, indeed. i love the way the film is quite cold and sober in style, but heart-wrenching in content, if you get my drift. i guess it will remain a mystery, how some directors succeed in establishing this instant, magical connection between audience and character. and isn’t that what you try to describe, try to approximate this connection youl felt, so it may convey to other people through your words?
    jeez, drifting off here.. well, just wanted to approximate that i do think your review is really well written and spot on.

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