Neglected Films No.6: ‘Run Lola Run’
My brain is clearly running on the same tracks as Andy Nyman’s, as the actor/writer just featured this on his website (his doppelganger film ‘The Glass Man’ needs to be released – it’s a genuine knockout).
I worked on this for charismatic German director Tom Tykwer, who has only made one bad film so far (‘Three’). His version of ‘Perfume’ is superb. But this high-adrenalin blur of a movie is simply astonishing.
Flame-haired Franke Potente is meeting her boyfriend (Moritz Bleibtreu), who left a bag of money on a train and is now about to rob a bank in twenty minutes. She needs to stop him, but must run across the city to do it. Each person she bumps into changes the course of her fate, and each time the outcome varies. We also see that the passers by in the streets through which she runs also have their futures changed, and their destinies are shown to us in flash-forward Poloroids.
The Groundhog Day structure means that Lola must remember what happened in the past each time, altering her journey to avoid obstacles and learning from her mistakes. In this way the film is the first to truly resemble a videogame because it replicates the kinetic experience of playing a plat former. And yet it has heart – we really care about what happens to Lola and her boyfriend; they’re good people suffering bad luck, and we want them to beat the system. And Lola is a really good runner!
The visuals, which include planet-wide zooms and animation, are gorgeous, while the relentless driving soundtrack by Tykwer himself is filled with ticking clocks, and never lets the bpm drop from start to finish. There was going to be a US remake, but for some reason this didn’t happen. As a consequence, the film didn’t get as wide an audience as it deserved – although it’s a cult favourite in the UK. Also check out ‘Heaven’ and ‘The International’, with its amazing centre-piece shoot-out. Tykwer is the thinking person’s action director.