Run Lola Run movie completes twenty-four years since its release but is still among the best video game film. Directed by Tom Tykwer, the film, immediately following its release, became a hit and achieved great success at Toronto Film Festival and Sundance film festival in 1998 and 1999 respectively. What makes Run Lola Run so special is not only the meticulous thought given in the plot but also the presentation which challenges the set boundaries of filmmaking.
Before jumping into the Run Lola Run movie review, here’s a brief about the film – Lola gets a panicked phone call from her troubled boyfriend Manni. Manni has lost 100000 Deutsche Mark (German currency) which needs to be delivered to Ronnie within twenty minutes or else Manni will get killed. The twist in the plot is that Lola has got three chances or rather three lives and quick decisions to make. In her first life, Lola gets shot, in her second life Manni gets shot and finally in her third life, Lola makes 100000 Deutsche Mark with just ninety-seven Marks in a casino. The film sets a benchmark for filmmaking both technically and plot-wise. In this Run Lola Run movie review, we are going to analyze the experimental steps taken in filmmaking and how small decisions can have a huge impact.
Landing somewhere between a traditional narrative structure and a dynamically experimental one, the Run Lola Run movie weaves an exciting and breathtaking plot. It does have a beginning, middle and end, and in that same order, only the end is stitched with the beginning again through the juxtaposition of shots – the falling of the polybag and the telephone. The three lives of Lola are bound with one another through vignettes of her time spent with Manni which kick-starts her day from the beginning. With rhythmic montages of shots, the film creates panic and a constant rush in the audience’s mind – leaving them as breathless as Lola herself, psychologically.
The plot doesn’t have a huge story behind it. It spends very little time defining characters and their backstory and yet tells all that we need to know – for example in some less than 30 seconds of Lola’s mother’s screen time we know she is wasted all day drinking and chatting over the phone, we know her father has an extramarital affair and that Lola is not his biological daughter.
Furthermore, the film has scenes appearing in slow motion like the falling of the bag of money which extends the time and throws the two main characters into some kind of realization. The future of the random characters Lola bumps into appears to us in black and white and in photographs and we see that the future of the characters is different each time, perhaps based on the choices they have made, just like Lola.
Expanding Filmmaking Techniques
The video game film Run Lola Run challenges the traditional filmmaking style in many ways. It has a sense of disorientation about it right from Lola’s first appearance on the screen, in time, and in editing. Lola is distressed about Manni and her inconsiderate father which is manifested in her appearance – her hair is going in all directions, she is breathless most of the time, and her clothes are improper. Nonetheless, her appearance makes her stand out from the background. Just think of Lola’s father’s office with walls and curtains in muted colours against her bright red hair or the casino where everyone is in formals except Lola.
Although on the surface she is unkempt, there’s also a depth to her character along with a sense of power and authority. Some believe there’s a supernatural thing about her, especially her scream which brings things under her command, usually followed by a vertigo effect – say when she screams in the casino for her last trial at luck. Also, the man in the ambulance gains his regular heartbeat when she holds his hands.
Along with representing the possibilities in life, director Tom Tykwer has also explored possibilities in filmmaking. Run Lola Run film plays with time and space. Watching it one way will tell you that Lola has parallel lives since all three look the same, she meets the same people, and even her mother is in the same condition. However, it can also be argued that the three parts are a continuation. In the first life, Manni teaches Lola to use the gun, in her second life she knows how to use it. The time zone remains strange to the audience.
The Run Lola Run movie represents the butterfly effect quite obviously and interestingly which is one of the reasons for it creating a buzz. The butterfly effect basically implies that one small action occurring in a split second can have a tremendous impact on bigger things. Had Lola not collided with Mr Meyer’s car, he wouldn’t have reached the bank on time and Lola would have never thought of a way beyond seizing money from her father. It’s about taking a chance and seeing where things go – just like taking a chance with ninety-seven Deutsche Mark to see how it earns 100000 Deutsche Mark within minutes. In fact, bumping into Mr Meyer was perhaps the best thing that happened to her.
The camera follows Lola, the music heightens with step and for all the other listless reasons, the Run Lola Run movie was not only a box office hit but also an excellent film in the eyes of the critics, both in Germany and abroad. It stands as an example of how original, independent and experimental films can influence the mass audience.
Before concluding this Run Lola Run movie review, I’d like to include a crucial and well-known fact about the film. Video games are a matter of chances and fate – a jump can make you cross the ditch or can make you drown. A gamer improves with multiple chances he takes. The geography of the game doesn’t change nor does the time duration. The film Run Lola Run even starts in the most traditional way a video game begins – a dong of a bell, the opening of the cave and then the countdown. The uncertainty of every step Lola takes, the pace of the film, and the spatial continuity make Run Lola Run a great example of a video game film. Furthermore, the crisp plot and the depth of characterisation of Lola further add to the merits of the film.