"Run, Lola, Run" is one of those movies that jumps out of the gate, never slows down, and no matter how bad you need to take a piss, you sit in your seat and watch because you don't want to miss a second. It reminded me of two other things I really enjoyed this year. The first was a dirty limerick about a girl named Lola. I can't remember the actual rhyme, but I remember she had a giant pussy that, when spoken into, echoed. The second was "Go", a fine flick about amoral teenagers gone amok.
I wish the Americans made this movie and stamped "Made in the God Damn USA" on it. But we didn't. It's our enemies from the Great War, back to harass us once more, this time with a movie that's a hell of a lot better than what the draft-dodgers in Hollywood are making. "Go" had the same energy, being hellbent on entertaining us without ever feeling the need to pause and preach to us about pornography in the military or the virtues of being Adam Sandler.
Never has a movie turned on a simpler plot. Lola must run and run or else her boyfriend Manni will die. When the movie begins, she learns he has bungled a heist by leaving the 100,000 Deutsche Marks he owes a gangster in a subway car. Lola has twenty minutes to replace the money and get it to Manni or he will do something stupid and be killed. I don't know much about currency exchanges, but I take it Marks are worth more than Canadian dollars, because 100,000 are hard to come by. Lola has no car or bike, obviously, or else the movie would be called "Drive, Lola, Drive!" Or maybe just "Drive, Lola" since she wouldn't be in such a hurry.
I know what you're thinking: "That sounds like twenty minutes of a good film, what happens in the other 70 minutes? I hope it's loads of dirty sex." So did I, but I was almost as satisfied with what I got. The story is repeated, two more times. Each time there are little variations in what Lola does, or whom she bumps into, each leading to a different outcome. Once she falls down some stairs, making her a few seconds later, and meaning she runs into people in slightly different places. Another time she leaps a barking dog and reaches destinations faster. The slight differences snowball into entirely different endings for all three stories.
It's like that freaky story by Ray Bradbury where that asshole goes back to the time of dinosaurs and kills a butterfly. And when he gets back to the present, he discovers that killing one butterfly forever altered the world. "Run, Lola, Run" is about how every little thing is more connected to the rest of the world than we ever suspected. I learned this: if I mouthed-off to some asshole at the Ralston Amoco because he didn't put the nozzle back in the pump, I may go home to find my apartment on fire and my wife fucking the mailman on the front lawn.
Lola is tough. She's also more attractive than any German woman I ever saw in the Olympics. Man, she's the kind of broad I'd want in a tomb with me if I was buried alive. She doesn't give up, no matter how fucking grim the situation is. When it looks impossible, our little German lady friend stops for a moment, shouts "Scheisse" and then starts running again. Scheisse means shit in German, and you can bet I'll use it if I'm ever in Germany and they try to serve me any of their sausages made out of dogs or cats or rats. "This is scheisse!" I will shout loud enough for the entire beer hall to hear. I fell in love with Lola, even though all I knew is that she loved Manni enough to try to save him from certain death. Lola, dump that loser and move to a great country like America. I'll teach you there is more to life than crappy techno music.
Director and German Tom Tykwer was a video maker and it shows here, as he blends animation, video and different film mediums to keep the whole damn story bubbling. Sometimes he misses, and it feels like some art-school loser's senior project, but mostly he's right on. The scenes between Lola's father and his mistress have the cheesy feeling of daytime television; Lola's sprints are at once repetitive and original because Herr Tykwer keeps the backgrounds alive; and short vignettes tell how how each secondary character' life is changed by a brief encounter with Lola. It's like Tykwer has so many ideas in his head that they just keep pouring out and onto the screen.
Of course, I expected the first two variations of the story to end in tragedy, but the third to be a triumph for our Lola. Tykwer does exactly this, but within this predictable format the son of a bitch is continually inventive. I never knew where the hell the story was going so I just sat back in my seat, enjoyed it and gnawed on the candy I smuggled in from the Walgreen's next door to the theater.
There are some missteps. Mostly, the techno soundtrack is shit. The songs are redundant and likely only to be enjoyed by drugged out hippies at a rave. The story is too crammed with shit at times. Mr. Tykwer, take a breath, take your medication and save some of those ideas for a sequel. Finally, Lola is not that great a runner.
Overall, however, I grudgingly give the Germans four fingers.
I encourage Hollywood to watch this movie and copy it, the way
the Germans did with our bombs in World War II. Do not despair,
we shall prevail once again, America.