Neglected Films No.6: ‘Run Lola Run’

The Arts

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.

7 comments on “Neglected Films No.6: ‘Run Lola Run’”

  1. glasgow1975 says:

    Slightly surprised to see this here, as you say it’s something of a cult classic here in the UK, but I suppose in a wider sense it has been neglected, tho I’m not sure I’d want a remake, they so often get it wrong and ruin the very things that make the originals so special.

  2. Dan Terrell says:

    Really, really liked this film. I’ll have to buy the DVD, too.
    It was amazing how the film impacted German women’s hair.
    In 1998, many, many young women had painted their hair Lola Red. By 2000, a wide range of women had their hair Lola Red or painted slightly differing red shades. In 2008, even some grandmothers had gone red, but other colors were sneaking in. One was basic – got ya red – that had added yellow or orange circles; and stark white hair! with multi-colored streakings!
    This year was the same, but less red more white or black-black molded jobs. My favorite as a fat black comma style that had the point of the comma indicating the woman’s mouth. I suspect this style comes with a neckrest, as a pillow would be out. Or it’s a helmet wig, but it didn’t look that way.
    My wife says: “Not me, I’m a nayutal blonde.”

  3. Dan Terrell says:

    That’s “natural blonde”, naturally.
    Sssahhh. The wife walked by talking – really – no really.

  4. John says:

    A phenomenal movie! And imitated by the dozens after it became so successful. You and I seem to be the only people to profess their admiration for PERFUME. No one I know liked it as I did. And why was it so reviled by critics? Back to RUN, LOLA, RUN — It’s a cult classic all over the world, I think. It certainly was a HUGE hit in the US.

    RE your parenthetical mention of THE GLASS MAN: just yesterday I came across it in a list of “Top 5 Horror Films from Frightfest 2011.” Figures it’s an indie that only made the film festival circuit. the best stufff neer makes it to wide release. TROLLHUNTER was on the list, too. Saw that after you reviewed it here. Loved it!

  5. glasgow1975 says:

    love Perfume too great book & film

  6. Business says:

    Bookmarked your blog!

  7. Jez Winship says:

    I’ve not seen Lola, but I loved the beginning of The Princess and the Warrior, although I felt it went a bit off the rails towards the end. Franka Potente was particularly affecting in the ‘princess’ role, and I was disappointed when she was so poorly used in the British underground-set horror film Creep; such a waste of a gift of a setting, too. Heaven was also good. It could have been a hubristic step filming an unrealised Kieslowski script, but I thought he pulled it off well. Cate Blanchette was a kind of Franka by proxy. I’m excited to see what he does with Cloud Atlas, a book which I particularly enjoyed, but which relies so much on the style of language in which each of its parts is written.

Comments are closed.