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Monday, 16 January 2017

Retro Review: Run Lola Run (1998)

Run Lola Run
Cast: Franke Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Nina Petri, Herbert Knaup
Genre: Thriller
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $22 million

Plot: Two-bit Berlin criminal, Manni delivers some smuggled loot for his boss, Ronnie but accidentally leaves the 100,000 mark payment in a subway car. Given 20 minutes to come up with the money, he calls his girlfriend, Lola who sprints through the streets of the city to try to beg the money out of her bank manager father & get to Manni, before he does something desperate 

'Keeps On Running, Deutschland Style'

Like a female German version of The Bourne Identity mixed with Sliding Doors, Run Lola Run tells the story of Lola's boyfriend, Manni who calls Lola and tells her he has sold the diamonds to a guy, and he only has 20 mins before meeting the mob boss who will kill Manni, when Manni loses the money. Lola has only a short amount of time to save his life, in a 20 min span. 

Run Lola Run is the type of film with a concept that could have come straight out of Hollywood, but alas, its origins are in Deutschland or be it more precisely Germany. I usually don't watch a lot of foreign films, besides the ones from Hong Kong, but I have seen this film before and I just revisited it to see how good it still is today. & it still is. 

The film is divided up into 3 segments of different versions of the same scenario and each one of them has a different outcome, based on the choices being made and how the characters react. Most of the scenes show Lola running, sprinting, like Usain Bolt and as her life depends on it, and not letting anything and anyone stand in her way in saving Manni and halfway through, it becomes more like a Bonnie & Hyde thing, with Manni and Lola robbing a store and trying to evade the cops. The cut scenes with the individual characters showing the aftermath of each one as Lola runs past each one are interesting and they vary a great deal offering different possibilities. 

Run Lola Run mixes animated cut scenes with live action sequences and the imagery style, the way it is shot and produced and the editing is very European and abstract in its feel, in contrast to the standard American fare. The techno score can be grating on some people, but I for one wasn't annoyed by it. After seeing this film, one can understand why the casting director of the Bourne Identity cast Franke Potente as Jason Bourne's girlfriend. As Lola, Franke brings that spunk and fierceness, as well as subtlety to her character's persona. 

This is a wild, entertaining and fast-paced film, and though some may find the repeated scenes tedious and redundant, they add to and function within the plot of the film. If, however, you are looking for a deep, emotional drama with well-developed characterisations, you're not going to get it in this film. That's not to say this acts as a disadvantage and a flaw of Run Lola Run; rather the characters just act, behave the way they do and say the things they say. 

The acting is very good and sound and the locations are very nice looking; comparisons with Sliding Doors and Groundhog Day will be made, and yet there is a realness to Run Lola Run that takes things up a notch or two in this movie. 

Final Verdict:

A mind-bender of an effort, Run Lola Run is a quirky and inventive take on the thriller genre with terrific direction and an approach that makes it a cut above other similar films of this type. Even though it is a foreign film, it is the type of foreign film that everyone should see. And it's not too long and not too short, either. 

An experimental take on the thriller that where it fares little on the characterisation, plot and limited dialogue, it makes up for it with intuitiveness, an attentive direction and style that truly works and by presenting three different conclusions, the film allows the audience to decide for ourselves how we want it to end. Which is nice to have. 

Run Lola Run has to be seen to be believed. 


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