Run Lola Run (1998)

“Man… probably the most mysterious species on our planet. A mystery of unanswered questions. Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? How do we know what we think we know? Why do we believe anything at all? Countless questions in search of an answer… an answer that will give rise to a new question… and the next answer will give rise to the next question and so on. But, in the end, isn’t it always the same question? And always the same answer?”

‘Run Lola Run’, directed by Tom Tykwer in 1998, is a German action movie that takes place over 20mins. Lola, played by Franka Potente, races to deliver money to her boyfriend who has become embroiled in plot with a gangster. The movie follows three alternative versions of her race, one ending with her death, one ending with the death of her boyfriend, and the final one ending ambiguously. It’s a kinetic and ironic movie, the camera races alongside Lola, placing the audience firmly in her perspective. Whilst the film takes place in a compressed time period (weirdly faster than real-time) Tykwer stretches this by employing flash-forwards to the potential futures of each character Lola interacts with. The effect of this is to give the film more depth by raising the stakes of Lola’s run, but also to develop a theme of predestination and free-will that runs through the film. In many respects this film is an example of eclectic irony with its blurring of genres and performance types, but also Tykwer also uses different types of footage, for example animation, throughout the movie. These cartoon moments serve to unsettle the viewer and to add to the already frenetic pace, but also contribute to the general sense of playful confusion that ripples through Lola’s actions. But the end of her third run, the film has become a kind of three cup trick with each flash-forward and change in tone employed as a way of distracting the viewer from the central plot and to create the unlikely twist at the end.

Would I recommend it? Yes – weirdly I’d be tempted to watch this with ‘Russian Ark’ for the contrast, another film set in a short period of time, but one that employs the opposite methods to drive its narrative forward. Either that, or perhaps a movie that has a similarly anarchic approach to style and form – maybe ‘Funeral Parade of Roses’, ‘Daisies‘ or ‘House‘.


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