Set and filmed in Berlin, Run Lola Run was clearly made on a restrictive shoestring budget. However, when needs must then in creativity you trust.......
Tom Tykwer takes a simplistic threadbare storyline, adds a pumping techno track and pulls together a movie that not only has seriously endearing qualities but also has quite surprisingly very imaginative ones. Think of Lola as a supercharged Anneka Rice on a treasure hunt.
Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) plays Lola's (Franka Potente) boyfriend and he's got himself into a little bit of a bother. Oh dear Manni, well if you must choose to be a mobsters errand boy then I guess the propensity to end up in all sorts of problems is highly likely. Why is it that so much of the youth of today pay so little regard to the consequences of their actions ? In this case he's only gone and lost 100,000 Deutsche marks that he's collected from a dodgy deal on behalf of this mobster.
It is of course all Lola's fault...she was meant to have picked him up on her moped, but she couldn't get there on time because her moped got stolen, in which case Manni had to walk home with the money in a carrier bag, had to then hop on a train where a tramp bumped into him, that in turn caught the attention of the train guards, Manni then panicked and got off the train, stupidly left the bag on the seat, got himself into a further blind panic, guards arrested him and all of a sudden there was a very rich tramp wondering around the streets of Berlin....phew let me get my breath back please.....one puff, two puff, three puffs....cue the manic phone call to Lola....right here we go again....The time is 11.40am and Manni is due to meet Ronnie the mobster at 12pm. If he doesn't somehow have 100,000 on him by then, then his life won't be worth living. Now Manni's got a gun on him, his mind is unsettled and he's staring at a Bolle supermarket whilst talking to Lola from a phone booth. If Lola can't help him in raising the money within 20 minutes then he's going to go and do something even more stupid and rob the supermarket on the stroke of midday....phew, I think I've managed to get my breath back now!
That's it folks, that's pretty much all there is to the story. It's all very simple stuff. The phone call to Lola has officially put her on starters orders. The moment she puts the phone down, it's Bang!!! and they're off! She's got 20 minutes to somehow raise 100,000 Deutsche marks, which is never going to be a mean feat as well as rush to save her boyfriends life.
The format of the movie is fairly simplistic but is indeed actually very clever as a result. Basically you get three re-runs of the forthcoming 20 minute scenarios. Each version is similar but slightly different on each occasion. The variations basically highlight that any given cause and action can and does result in differing reactions. Lola runs through each of these scenarios and has to determine which of the three options results in the best outcome.
In actual fact what is happening is this. The moment she puts the phone down to Manni, she is panicking. The scenarios that you are shown are actually the options that are going through her mind. This is the essence of the movie. We all face unplanned day to day situations both minor and major, which if we don't deal with a due and appropriate regard, the consequences are then very much a result of our choices. The charm of the movie is that Lola has to make a choice, she has to make one pretty immediately and it's one that she wished she didn't have to make. She's under serious pressure to think quickly on her feet and she runs through all the consequences of each of those three choices in her mind.
Now the video aspects of this movie do reveal the films genuinely budget nature, but it's certainly not considered bad. The camerawork is creative, techniques differ and some very interesting shots come about. It's all refreshing stuff. The picture is bright and heavily saturated in colours and it very much suits the film to a tee. I also believe Tom Tykwer wanted to depict this in almost cartoon like form. It certainly comes across like that. Lola's bright red hair and green pants are stand out features and occasionally the movie alternates with animation, especially at déjà vu stages. It definitely feels like a music video but it also works extremely charmingly as a movie.
It's also quite interesting to note that underlying all this there is actually a strong positive message that good intentions will generally result in positive outcomes and bad intentions will generally result in negative ones.
In the first run, her thoughts are slightly negative. She feels she can only turn to her father, (who works as a bank manager) to try and raise the money. What she finds when she gets there is that he has been having an affair, is considering leaving her mother and she's told bluntly by him that she's not even his daughter of birth. Poor Lola, I mean life's a bitch right? You've only got 20 mins anyway and you get burdened with some seriously heavy domestic issues like that? You had better run on Lola. Needless to say she does, but only to arrive a fraction too late. Manni is already in the middle of a hold up at the supermarket. Facing this new dilemma she decides to act accomplice to the robbery which following she gets gunned down by the police. Option one is a no, no in that case.
Ok let's rewind to the start and start over again....In her second run, she takes on a far more negative note from the outset. Her father is still her chosen option to try get the money but should he not give it to her, she is now prepared to rob the bank that he manages. Well, it's all rather more extreme this time. Anyhow she does get the money and somehow gets to Manni before he starts on robbing the supermarket. Problem solved you say? No, because as we all know fate strikes in many, many strange ways. None more so for Manni who abruptly gets run over by an ambulance! Option two becomes a no, no as well.
Now the beauty is that each run is fast moving, adrenaline packed and makes for intriguing viewing. The soundtrack adds a creative and interesting dimension throughout. In a nutshell it's fast, fun techno stuff. However, it's evident that the music was relied upon heavily in order to disguise the films many budgetary restrictions. Another beauty of the film is a number of montage sequences that are triggered as she bumps and passes onlookers in the street. It certainly adds an interesting interaction of the external consequences of her actions.
Finally, this now in turn leaves us with her third option....so let's rewind and start all over again....she really doesn't have much time to be pondering much longer and really needs to get on with it! The third run is certainly as intriguing as the first two. Whilst she still has to do pretty desperate things to get the money, her thoughts remain positive throughout this one. The beauty in this particular run is that she is also now prepared to accept the inevitability of consequence. She realises no matter what she does, there is always going to be compromise to be made somewhere along the line. This is the greatest lesson that she learns and it's called wisdom.
All in all I have to say that this is a wonderful film. It's certainly made on a budget but don't let that put you off. The creativity throughout more than makes up for it. It touches on some simplistic issues as well as the cause and reaction of consequence, which are of course more deeply philosophical. There's a motto in there somewhere and it's a very poignant one that the youth of today or anyone for that matter should heed. The soundtrack is highly entertaining and the sight of Lola running down the street with her bright red hair and green pants is iconic. Anneka Rice eat your heart out.
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