Movie-Hype (#710) – RUN LOLA RUN
In the late '90s every true movie buff had a "Go-To Indie." This was an independent film no one had heard of that you would recommend to friends looking for something different. The hope was that they would love the avant-garde filmmaking, and by association think you were awesome. (As if somehow, you had something to do with the film.)
For about 9 months, RUN LOLA RUN was my "Go-To Indie." Why? Well, for that you have to hearken back to childhood.
Remember those old "Choose your Own Adventure" books you read as a kid? The main character (usually a kid just like me!) would be going along when suddenly something crazy would happen, like the earth opening up and voices calling for help from within.
Then came the choice.
If the kid goes down the hole, you turned to page 3. If he runs away, you turned to page 25. And you were off. From there you were repeatedly given "options," choices that you could make for the character to give you what turned out to be a totally unique story. (If you were like me and read every book you owned 294 times you soon realized there were that all that many ways things could go, but now I'm just hating.)
Anyway, I always wondered why they never tried this with popular entertainment. (Actually, they did try it with a movie once. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called, but when I lived in San Diego they set up this theatre where each stick had a remote control, and when the protagonist ran into a situation the audience "voted" on what you wanted to happen, which would directly affect what you saw next. Needless to say, it sucked.)
However, redemption was close at hand. Enter RUN LOLA RUN.
Set up like those old "Choose your own adventure" books, RUN LOLA RUN plays out the idea of what might happen to a character were she to make slightly different choices along life's path.
The story is simple. Lola gets a phone call from her boyfriend Manni, who has lost a bag of 100,000 marks (about $15,000) he is supposed to deliver to a gangster in 20 minutes. Said gangster will kill Manni when he doesn't show up with the cash….unless Lola can help.
And thus Lola starts running.
I'm not kidding. Once Lola gets on the move, she virtually doesn't stop. We get a real-time adventure as Lola tries desperately to come up with the cash and save Manni.
And if that weren't cool enough, we get to watch her do it three times. Each time there is that same phone call, the same mad dash out of the apartment, and then the Butterfly Effect comes into play. Tiny differences in how Lola runs or moves magnifies what happens to her as well as the people she meets. (This is another cool trick, as she meets some of the same people along the way, but her slight difference in meeting them produces wholly different futures each time out.)
The film is in German with subtitles, but if you're one of those haters please do not let that dissuade you. The film is almost 100% visual, and at a trim 80 minutes makes a great party movie. (If you think about it, people will be talking so much at your party during the movie you wouldn't be able to hear the dialogue anyway.)
RUN LOLA RUN works because of the amazing imagination of director Tom Tykwer, who gives us every hyper-kinetic trick in the book, including animation, car crashes and even magic to produce what amounts to the world's most ass-kicking music video. (Oh yeah: the soundtrack is absolutely thumping, one of the most effective you'll ever hear.)
The other main reason the film works is Franka Potente. By now, you probably know her as the girl in THE BOURNE IDENTITY, but at the time, she was just this crazy German girl running her ass off to save her boyfriend. (As my friend Carlos put it, "Now THAT'S a Hot Gurl!") Lola suffers all manner of infirmities and humiliations, but somehow never loses her dignity.
Well, that's not quite the way I'd put it. She stays hot! (And I mean that in the most female-empowering sense.)
RUN LOLA run is a great party movie, a great date movie (TRUST ME), a great conversation movie and a great film to get people who would normally never watch a non-English film. Most of all it allows us to fulfill that part of us that yells at the screen "No, don't go in there!"
Now we see what might have happened. And then some.