A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 233 – Run Lola Run

Run Lola Run – October 19th, 2010

Way back when Andy and I were both working at TLA he saw this without me. And he fell in love with it and couldn’t stop talking about it and, as one might guess if one knows me, I got utterly sick of hearing about it and finally flat out refused to watch it. Sure, it sounded like a neat premise, but not one that was going to be a religious experience. Though given my personal beliefs, it comes rather close, now that I’ve seen it. Nothing epiphanic, but it touches on things I believe about the world, so that’s kind of neat. Anyhow, I avoided it like the plague for ages, because I didn’t want to be told I had to love it.

I knew I’d like it when I saw it eventually. I’ve sort of been coming to the point where I want to put it in voluntarily. I suggested it the other night as a good subtitled movie for this week, and I’m sure that made Andy happy. And I did enjoy it. It’s a fun movie with a gimmick. It never gets all that deep, but that’s not the point of the movie. There are a few scenes with the two main characters in bed, talking about love and their relationship and the nature of life and death and whatnot. But the point of the movie is how the story is told.

At the beginning of the movie we learn the basics: Lola’s boyfriend, Manni, has lost 100,000 marks after what seems like a rather shady deal involving cars traded for diamonds. He has to get the money by noon or he’s dead. It is 11:40. So Lola has to come up with something. And through the course of the movie Lola tries three times to get the money and get to Manni in time. She fails utterly once, succeeds in getting the money but not in time the second time, and then the third time she would have managed but things worked out in other ways. It’s sort of a Groundhog Day thing, only compressed into a repeated 20 minutes, with a bank robbery, and in German.

One of the things I loved early on is that through the movie there are little snapshot vignettes of some of the people Lola encounters on her race to Manni, showing what happens to them in that iteration. In one a woman with a baby carriage ends up kidnapping another baby. In another the same woman wins the lottery. In another she finds religion. They don’t seem to have much to do with what Lola does when they meet her. It’s not as if she’s super nice to someone in one and things turn out well and ignores them in another and things go poorly. That’s not how it works. It’s more subtle. Just a tiny change means a huge difference in a life. In a way I almost like that better than the whole big dramatic show of what Lola herself does differently and how it affects it all. For every little action the universe branches out, creating more and more possibilities. It’s not just Lola and Manni who’re affected. It’s Lola’s father and the people in the supermarket and the woman with the carriage and the man in the ambulance. And all the lives they’ll touch too.

Unfortunately, those little stories dry up in the third section. We see one for the woman with the baby and that’s it. The man with the bicycle gets more story, but not his post-movie life. Same for at least one other character who otherwise gets a story. We get to see more of what happens with Lola’s father. We get to see a new version of what happens with a man whose car Lola runs over earlier on. We get to see what happens with the bicycle. But those little stories are gone. I understand why they don’t fit in so well in the third section, but I missed them. The thing is, in the third section things have to go differently. This time Lola has to get it right. She misses her father at the bank and things change drastically. And she misses her father because she pauses at the car she’s about to run over. Which changes the path of her father’s day too.

There’s a unique feel to this movie. It’s not just the gimmick, because it really is similar in concept to Groundhog Day, but the atmosphere is totally different. It’s partially the desperation of Lola’s quest, and the very short time period she has to work with. But it’s also in the magical realism sort of stuff that happens, with Lola’s screaming and how it affects things, and her animated race down the stairs playing on the television in her mother’s living room. It’s in Lola holding the hand of the man in the ubiquitous ambulance at the end. This is a movie that is fully aware that it’s operating in between realities, and therefore a lot of things can happen that wouldn’t necessarily happen in this one. I don’t think it’s saying anything terribly earth shattering, and to be honest I wasn’t too fond of Manni (he got himself into this mess in the first place), but it was fun, and it had the whole myriad possibilities thing that I adore. So I enjoyed it. Only took me what, twelve years to see it? I’m sure there’s a reality where I saw it in the theaters when it came out, so I’m not too fussed.

October 19, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Run Lola Run

October 19, 2010

Run Lola Run

The first time I saw this movie I was profoundly drunk. I was spending the night with Dan and Gary from TLA. This was during a dark period in my life and I had a problem with binge drinking. Anyhow, in my addled state this movie got right inside my head and set up shop. I remember taking feverish notes on the top of a pizza box. I am told that I was ranting in German (which is odd in light of the fact that I do not speak German at all.)

I have seen the movie many more times since that night, and it is among my favorite films. I’d like to believe that this is because there is so much about this film that appeals to my particular likes and not because of my altered mindset when I first experienced it. This movie touches upon that notion of being able to influence the world around you which I talked about in my Dark City review. It deals a lot with notions of chaos theory and how the smallest changes in how we interact with people can have vastly different effects on how our lives play out. It has a fantastic, throbbing techno beat that runs through almost the entire film and brings me right into the desperation of Lola’s run. And it is absolutely filled with cool camera tricks and nifty editing – it’s a film like yesterday’s that has it’s own visual language a lot of the time, but it’s more consistant and better handled.

The story told in this movie is exceptionally simple. Lola’s boyfriend Manni has gotten himself into trouble by losing a plastic bag with 100,000 Deutschmarks that he needs to pay to a crime lord he is working for. He misplaced the bag on a subway train and now he’s afraid that if he doesn’t have the money in twenty minutes he’s going to be killed. So Lola has twenty minutes to get the money and meet Manni or else. That’s pretty much the entire plot. The rest of the movie is just seeing it play out.

But there’s so much more to the movie than just that. I don’t think that I can really capture in words just what this movie is able to accomplish. It’s a driven film. Writer/Director Tom Tykwer takes this simple idea and expands on it, playing Lola’s quest like a modern fugue. There’s a common theme that runs though the film, but then there are variations on it. The whole movie is a work of chaotic art and full of little details that need to be examined several times to really sink in. (Or maybe it’s just that I was so very drunk that first time.) There’s the pumping techno beat that drives it, but there’s also a kind of rough feel to the filming and editing itself. Tykwer drives the camera like a madman. It’s always circling, soaring, dashing. Every once in a while there’s a pause – as if to catch your breath – but there’s a tension even to the slower scenes. Then it’s off again into the mad rush, only with some slight changes that alter the entire fabric.

I mentioned when we reviewed the Bourne movies how happy I was then to see Franka Potente. She’s a pretty powerful actress and this whole movie hangs on your being able to feel her panic and her desperation. The spirit that Franka brings to Lola is touching and liberating. Manni derides Lola at the start of the film for believing that love can solve anything. The whole movie is about proving him wrong – that Lola’s determination can overcome any obstacle and that for her love and by her will she is able to alter the very laws of probability and nature.

Just the opening of this movie, when the beat gets going and you see some of the characters that Lola will interact with in a milling crowd of teaming humanity gives me chills. Every time I watch this film feels like a new adventure for me, and even after more than ten years since this came out I haven’t seen any other movie that has this kind of pace, this kind of drive, this kind of edge. It’s a brilliantly crafted piece that blows me away all over again every time I see it – and I’m stone cold sober as I say that now.

October 19, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment