Monday, November 10, 2008

Run Lola Run - Impressions

Tom Tykwer's 1998 masterpiece, Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt), belongs in anyone's movie collection. Here are the reasons why:

1. Innovative storytelling
Run Lola Run stands out from most if not all action movies of the late 90's simply because of the simplicity of the plot. Lola (Franka Potente) gets a call from her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), who is frantic and panicky after accidentally leaving a plastic bag filled with 100,000 Deutsche Marks on the subway, panicking during a routine police check. They need the money to pay off a loan shark/boss, risking death if they don't make the payment. Adding to the urgency? They only have 20 minutes to recover the cash.

It's here that the movie well and truly takes off: Lola runs out of her apartment building, heading to her dad's bank office to get the money, and bumping into several passersby on the way. It's also hilarious whenever they have short segues of sideshows showing the fates of each passerby, some quite morbid, others have happy endings.

Without going into too many details, the main auxiliary players in the story are Lola's father and his mistress, the beggar who took the money off the train, and the cops. Within the 20 minute frame, both Lola and Manni attempt to recoup their loss; while Lola attempts to appeal to her dad's softer side, Manni considers holding up the nearby grocery store for a quick, ill-advised return.

The greatest charm in the storytelling is the ways in which each option presents a conclusion. In the first scenario, both Lola and Manni rob the grocery store. In the second, Lola holds her father ransom for the bank's money. And in the third story, Lola and Manni get everything right by being less moderate and impulsive in the actions (oh, and a game of roulette at the casino was involved.) To see how things play out, well, you'd have to watch the movie. Or read the wiki.

2. The soundtrack
In movies that involve fast pacing, you'd expect them to have a similarly paced soundtrack. Unfortunately, they would normally incorporate some arbitrary techno/trance bullshit, much in the same way that generic restaurants would play terrible Top 40 "classics" over their speakers. Well, in Lola Rennt's case, we're spared the crap, because this time around the music suits the movie 110% of the time. It's catchy, atmospheric, and well-synchronized with the cinematography and scenery of Germany. It doesn't hurt that Franka Potente herself contributed her voice to the movie's soundtrack.

3. Franka Potente
Before the world knew her as Jason Bourne's girlfriend and fellow runaway, Franka Potente was Lola. Her performance in this movie is classic. Equally funny, emotional, and determined (how many fractions is that??), we have a heroine whose sole motivation is to keep her boyfriend alive. In short, it's really sweet. Her level of energy was really high in this movie as well. What would you expect if the premise of the movie was the time limit, right? In fact, some of the best parts of the movie happen during the myriad running scenes, from the scenery to the freeze frame passersby, each either cursing Lola or wondering just what the heck was going on. Each time a new scenario starts, and we see Lola running out of her apartment, there's a renewed sense of purpose in her eyes, and we can't help but root for her to come to Manni's rescue.

4. The relationship between Lola and Manni
There's also a sense of existentialism in Run Lola Run. In the first two paradigms the scene shifts to conversations that Lola and Manni had earlier in bed. "Do you love me?," one would ask the other. Which prompts a reply, "Of course I do." "How do you know? What if you met someone else, how do you know I'm better than other girls/guys?" Questions like "What would you do if I died?" are answered with "I'd be very sad of course." "Yes, you would be of course, but after a while, you'd get over it, and find someone else.." Despite the morbidity and absolutism of their responses, it's clear that they both love each other and would do anything for each other.

Anyway, this post is getting a little lengthy, so I'll leave a clip of the movie for posterity's sake.

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