Back in 2011 when this blog was in its infancy, a fellow film fan – some folks may remember Scott (aka Custard) of FrontRoomCinema – wrote a review for me on one of their favourite films, Run Lola Run. Finally, 10 years later, I too can say I’ve watched and enjoyed it.
Directed by Tom Tykwer and released in 1998, this German language film is genuinely like nothing I have ever seen before. Or at least nothing that immediately comes to mind.
At just shy of 1h 22m it’s a short film that gives you a glimpse – just 20 minutes, in fact – into the lives of Lola (Franka Potente) and her boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu).
Manni is in a predicament. A 100,000 Deutschemarks one, and Lola doesn’t have a lot time to either recover the missing cash or replace it before Manni takes matters into his own hands. Anything to avoid returning empty handed to his crime lord boss.
There is a lot to enjoy about Run Lola Run but I’m going to focus on three things in particular, and warning there are spoilers:
The strong female lead
Action films in the Nineties were dominated by the likes of Bruce Willis, Jackie Chan and Jean-Claude Van Damme. Run Lola Run flipped that on its head, giving us an average woman who is clearly no muscle-bound athlete who will do all she can to save her boyfriend.
She’s not to be underestimated either. Case in point during the second scenario when the police outside her father’s bank usher her away as an innocent bystander, unaware that she is the culprit of the robbery.
The role of chance
Three different scenarios are played out during Run Lola Run that each result in different outcomes depending on the decisions that Lola has made. I think that chance has a big role in our lives, which is probably why I enjoy 1998’s Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah so much.
In one pivotal scene in the third scenario Lola appears to force chance to work for her, delivering a glass-shattering scream that somehow ensures that the roulette ball lands on her number. It’s as if she’s saying: “I’ve had enough now. Just give me what I need.”
The chaotic energy
Whether it actually had or not, while watching the opening credits with the powerful techno soundtrack playing I felt like my pulse had suddenly increased by 50 bpm. This is further amplified throughout the three different scenarios with flash-forwards glimpsed through polaroid pictures, the use of split-screens and a cartoon Lola that periodically pops up.
Run Lola Run (1998; Lola rennt)
Director: Tom Tykwer
Starring: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu
“After a botched money delivery, Lola has 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 Deutschmarks.” – IMDb
- Multiple wins at the German Film Awards 1999: German Film of the Year, Outstanding Feature Film, Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Nina Petri), Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Herbert Knaup), Best Direction, Best Editing, Best Cinematography
- Nominated for the BAFTA Award 2000 for Best Film not in the English Language
- Winner of the Audience Award for World Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival 1999
- Competed for the Golden Lion at the Cannes Film Festival 1998
- Selected as Germany’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 71st Academy Awards