I enjoyed this fun and inventive German thriller from the late 90s, but I do wish I had seen it at the time of its release.
It’s fair to say that any movie is of its time to some extent, and none of them can be experienced in the same way as when they were first released years or decades ago, but it’s probably more so with the films that, at the time, were considered genuinely groundbreaking. I’ll never forget having my mind blown by the The Matrix back in 1999, but I doubt that it produces the same effect on anyone watching it twenty years later. I remember the huge acclaim this movie received on its release, praised for being unlike anything movie audiences had seen before. Watching it now, its techno soundtrack and flashy cinematic techniques are kinda dated and positively scream MTV era. But even so I can’t deny that the main setup is pretty cool and executed with a great deal of style, energy and verve.
The setup: Lola (Franka Potente) receives a frantic phone call from her boyfriend Manni, who’s just botched a money delivery to his gangster boss. If he doesn’t get his hands on 100,000 Deutsche Mark in the next 20 minutes, he’s toast. His reckless plan is to rob the nearby supermarket; Lola’s plan is to go for help to her father, a wealthy banker, so off she goes running through the streets of Berlin. Her 20-minute run is told three times in the movie, with slight differences on the route that amount to vastly different outcomes for Lola and the characters she bumps into on the way (who even get their own quick flash-forwards showing their entire lives). The point the film makes is that we’re all connected and the smallest insignificant events can have enormous consequences.
Lola’s fiery mop of the reddest red hair is easily the most memorable visual from the movie, and her pastel-colour outfit is so distinctive you can imagine wearing it to a 90s costume party. She almost has a cool video game character vibe about her, and in fact the whole movie has a touch of video game with its “replay” scenarios. There are unexpected quiet interludes in between the replays where Lola and Manni contemplate the nature of fate and choice, but otherwise Run Lola Run is a blast of pure kinetic energy and, at modest 81 minutes, never outstays its welcome. I sure do miss the times before movies got needlessly long and overcrammed.