Film Reviews

Run Lola Run: A High Energy Film of Determinism and Punctuality

Run Lola Run is a high-energy film of time paradoxes for Lola to save her boyfriend, Manni. It is the original live-die-repeat video game format for a film. The film was inspired by the video game format having lots of running with a time limit and retries. The film is in German and the original title of the film is Lola Rennt. There are English dubbed versions available but it might distract from the energy and pacing of the film which is important to the overall theme.

Lola gets a call from Manni wondering where she is. She explains that her moped was stolen and she has no more vehicle transport. But Manni explains his predicament that he got money from the mob to transport to a dealer across town on time at noon or he is dead. He had to take the train because no one was there to pick him up but ends up losing the money in the middle of transport. Manni must rely on Lola to retrieve 100,000 Deutschmarks before noon or Manni is going to rob a grocery store to get the money back. Lola must run across town, collect 100,000 Deutschmarks and stop Manni within 20 minutes.

Screenshot of Run Lola Run (1998). Lola and Manni meet.

The story set up has high stakes that keep you invested in watching the film. The film has experimental storytelling with three short films of the same predicament going through different scenarios. The direction of the film has a combination of jump cuts, animation inserts, 360 shots, a series of stills that tell a side story in visuals, a bird view shot of the original title and techno music making the film have that “cardio energy.” It brings across the real villain of the story being time, punctuality and everyday obstacles in a quiet downtown metropolis. The director of the film, Tom Tykwer, was also the writer. The film touches on if a person can change their destiny or on predetermined paths of their lives. It also visualizes that path less taken to accomplish a goal.

Screenshot of Run Lola Run (1998). Screenshot of the animation scene.

Lola and Manni are the main characters of the film but the importance of the reoccurring background characters plays an important part in how Lola gets to Manni. All of the characters in the story interconnect with the main characters in some way if they know each other or not.

Lola is a character under pressure who is very determined to complete her task, a devoted person to Manni and an evolving character with visual character growth. She is clever and her character goes through different routes to get what she wants. Her character design stands out against the grey backdrop of Berlin. Her hair is a spikey shoulder-length vibrant red with purplish streaks combed back. And her clothes are a mint green pair of pants, a light blue tank top and army boots or sneakers (depends on the story.) The character design makes Lola identifiable in long shots and when she is in a room of a bunch of “normal” people. Also, she has a quirk that when she screams a high pitch shrill, she can shatter glass. Lola was played by Franka Potente, who had this film based on her persona after meeting the director Tom Tykwer. Her performance of Lola was described in Variety Magazine as “heroic, fierce, frightened and vulnerable all at once.”

Screenshot of Run Lola Run (1998). Lola is screaming at the casino.

Manni is a desperate man whose frustrations grow. He doesn’t have that much character growth like Lola. His character is more of a damsel in distress circumstances takes over. His character design of regular urban clothes blends in the background while having a cool guy look. Manni is portrayed by Moritz Bleibtreu.

The video game influence is from the time constraints the characters have, the lead standing out with character design and the repeat event of the story. The techno music is on repeat like a 90s NES game but with a drumbeat.

This is an action movie with a character running to a destination point to complete a task. There are moments in the film that shows violence, blood and death but it’s not in excess. The film is not complicated in storytelling. It is engaging with a task that just seems impossible to do. When I first watched the film, I liked the twists and the unconventional way of telling a story, especially the side stories being short yet very effective.

Genre: Thriller/Action
Year: 1998
Duration: 81 minutes

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Three and a half out of five stars

All screenshots are from the film
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