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Germany 1999
Directed by
Tom Tykwer
91 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Run Lola Run

Synopsis: Lola is the rebellious daughter of a banking executive, whose sweet but shiftless boyfriend Manni has got himself into trouble with some underworld heavies. Lola has 20 minutes to get 100,000 Deutschmarks and save him from execution.

If this film were a CD it would make a nice EP rather than an LP, being three mixes of the same song/scenario. Or to put it another way Run Lola Run is more like an inventive and well-produced narrative music video than a film, in the sense that its principal concern is with high impact visual effects rather than character, dialogue or emotion (despite cleverly looking quite studentish, this was clearly not a low budget film). On that basis it is undeniably likeable and effective although too clearly indebted to some of the benchmark independent films of recent years – the main premise, the hunt for a large sum of cash in a short time…or else, coming from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, there's a reworking of the diner hold-up from Pulp Fiction, and the whole opening sequence of Trainspotting provides its visual armature, not to mention the beat-driven soundtrack. In its favour, it does have some novel and very catchy gimmicks and gags (I didn't have a watch but it would be a nice conceit if it had been constructed in sections of 20 minutes real time), and the marvellously-named and photogenic Franka Potente, who turns in some splendid running, is compelling as Lola.

The biggest weakness of the film as a film however is its failure to follow through a dramatic logic. In this respect, the device of simply repeating the storyline with a new set of variants is akin to the deus ex machina of ancient Greek theatre. Which is not to say that the film should be logical but rather that by refusing to engage with the logic of the drama it does not engage the viewer, as do the works already mentioned. To keep the theatrical analogy going there is no catharsis. Whilst there are some impressive visual devices for representing mental experience and concepts such as the contingency of life, I found myself many times expecting and wanting the film to permute or at least modulate to some different level and thus push the envelope of emotional experience. Its failure to do so, rather like the way a music video follows the verse/chorus structure of its score, also raises questions of the nature and art of film in a post-modern age.




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