[Favourites Friday] Run Lola Run

This week is a special guest post by the wonderful Scott from FrontRoomCinema (FRC). FRC runs many features, including FRC World Icon and Tech Tuesday. Scott’s blog has its name thanks to the 92in big screen cinema he has in his living room.

Run Lola Run (1998)

Director: Tom Tykwer
Starring: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu and Herbert Knaup

Last night was world cinema night in FRC Towers and we finally got to see a film that passed us by for so long, Run Lola Run.

The question we all ask ourselves is, what is the secret of a happy life? Well, in the world of Lola it is as simple as – Jump the Dog, Bet on Twenty! This novel and sometimes surreal film show us that is is possible in life to avoid the problems and harsh times that life sometimes throws our way by simply making the right choices. What would happen if we could benefit from hindsight and go back and make different choices?

The film is shown in three fast paced segments. It is a short story told three times with only one that ends in a happy result. The other two show us the disastrous effects of making the wrong choices. All three of these segments show Franka Potente in the titular role of Lola. She is running (hence the title) at full pelt to get to her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) and find 100,000 German marks en route. The reason she needs this money? Well, Manni has himself made an incorrect choice and managed to lose some of the Mob’s money, 100,000 in fact. If Lola cannot manage to reach her lover in 20 minutes, he is set to carry out an armed robbery on a supermarket to try and regain the lost Gangland funds.

While this film is very symbolic of many different parts of human nature, the one shining metaphor for me is how it represents the harsh nature of the mundane but essential rat race. It ponders constantly, ‘What if?’, but unlike the film in true life this type of thinking is utterly pointless unless we could travel back in time.

One very interesting part of Run Lola Run is that each time Lola starts her run, director Twyker uses different scenarios to show his ideas on fate and chance. They are only minor variations but they soon lead to larger differences, they show the chaotic nature of humanity and life in general. For instance, in the first two segments Lola goes to her father for help, the second time she doesn’t jump the dog and falls down the stairs. She is then a few seconds late for a collision with a pedestrian which also means she arrives at a far more awkward time in the conversation her father is having with his secret lover. Her unexpected arrival at this tricky time prompts her father to eject her much more harshly than he did the first time. Twyker also uses another trick to show the chaos of life, when Lola passes certain individuals the timing of the encounter stems a different timeline for them too, showing there future in a series of photographs. These are often wildly different depending on how they run into Lola.

Now I am not generally a fan of films that portray the heroes as criminals, but Run Lola Run gets away with it by showing the main characters sympathetically without whitewashing their criminal actions. It is when Lola and Manni actually turn from their criminal impulses that they are the most successful in avoiding their predicament. Two wrongs do not make a right in this film at all, in fact when Manni and Lola start threatening violence with an armed robbery the result is totally catastrophic. I am not trying to say that this film is a philosophical masterpiece, not by any means, but there is definitely some real substance going on underneath the highly styled direction and thumping techno soundtrack.

Highly entertaining and yet thought provoking without falling into the category of ‘Guilty Pleasure’.


10 thoughts on “[Favourites Friday] Run Lola Run

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  1. I love this film! It was the first Tom Tykwer film I ever saw and still my favorite of his. The editing and pacing of this movie are superb and it was a nice introduction Franka Potente as an actress. I was around 15 when this came out and already a dedicated cinephile in regards to American Cinema, but this was one of the first foreign films I saw which opened my mind to many wonderful titles subsequently from Fellini to Bergman to Kurosawa to Kieslowski and on and on. For that, it will always have a special place in my heart.

    1. That is such a cool anecdote. I love that it started the ball rolling for you on the greats of world cinema.

      I really enjoyed the ride, fast paced and yet thoughtful. As I said in the review, it is not quite a philosophical masterpiece but it certainly makes you think!!

      Thanks for reading

    2. Hi Matthew! How you doing? With your recommendation and Scott’s great Favourites Friday on it, I think I have to see Run Lola Run!

      I went to the Big Screen event at the O2 in London last week and, in among all the movie stuff, Mark Gatiss was there from Sherlock! He is a very funny, cool man. Didn’t give much away but said that season 2 will still be three, 90 minutes episodes and that they’ll focus on ‘The Woman’, ‘The Hound’ and ‘The Fall’ aka ‘A Scandal In Bohemia’, ‘The Hound Of The Baskervilles’ and ‘The Final Problem’. I’m looking forward to them! 😀

  2. Sounds very interesting, I like to see things from all the “what if” angles just because when you watch a film sometimes you get that “oooh what if this had happened instead of that” will have to check it out!

  3. Love the review. Glad you finally got to see it, it is one of my all time favourite movies. I have blogged about it several times. It is on my “A Life In Movies” list. I mentioned it on a list or recommendations of recent films not in the English language. http://wp.me/prVbF-7s, more recently I shoehorned it into my Go,See,Talk Presents – Double Feature Theatre. Here is my review from a few years ago: http://wp.me/prVbF-iX.

    1. This is Scott’s review, so I’m still yet to watch it. It’s on my lovefilm rental list so hopefully I’ll see it soon. I think I need to revisit your A Life in Movies, see what else I need to add to my rental list! 😀

      1. Claire: Yes, did see it was Scott’s review. Look forward to seeing what you think once you have seen it.

        Scott: Now you have seen it, if you haven’t already check out the other film Tom Tykwer and Franka Potente, made together, The Princess & the Warrior. Not as good as Run Lola Run but still fantastic.

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