Run (Lola rennt) (1998)
Tykwer infuses Run Lola Run with such a potent feeling of dangerous exhilaration that the viewer is left nearly intoxicated by the sight of the heroine's desperate efforts to save the life of her boyfriend. Fortunately, this sense is consistently enhanced by his protagonist, who is a simple but fascinating and involving character. The director has wisely avoided burdening his movie with extraneous details about her life and instead focuses exclusively on what will assist in the production of the feelings of exciting anxiety which dominate the film. He reveals her wealthy background, her lazy days as a rebellious, unemployed youth, and, most importantly, her passionate love for Manni. The viewer is, consequently, able to enter into her world and feel her desperation as she rushes to help her lover. Not only does Tykwer reveal enough of Lola's life to make her genuinely engaging, however, but he has also made her so visually appealing that the moviegoer cannot keep himself from being drawn to the character. With her brilliantly red hair, dishevelled clothes, and tattooed stomach, she is such a delight to watch that the viewer will hardly be able to look away from her.
While the movie generally remains focused on this captivating individual as she hurtles along one street or another, down a flight of stairs, or through some building, Tykwer enriches her tale by momentarily moving away from her when she encounters certain other persons, showing, in brief sequences, each of which is composed of a series of still images, the futures of these individuals, which change in each story depending upon apparently minor differences in the circumstances of their encounters with the protagonist.
This concern with how seemingly inconsequential incidents affect his characters' lives, how such occurrences can radically alter subsequent events, is effectively used to structure the whole of the film's narrative. There are times when the changes do seem forced, but these are relatively few and do not greatly detract from the movie's quality. Generally, the viewer is intrigued, even fascinated, by how the subtly distinct occurrences depicted lead to radically different futures both for Lola and the various people with whom she comes into contact.
Tykwer's observations are, by and large, undoubtedly true. Our lives are, in fact, frequently determined by events that occur in the briefest of moments, or by some single decision we have made, or even by chances over which we have no control. There is, probably, hardly a person alive who has not wondered how different his life would have been had it not been for some apparently trivial incident. By bringing out these possibilities, the director imbues the movie with a real sense of meditative fun.
While Run Lola Run may not be a truly great film, it is both engaging and genuinely exciting.
Review by Keith Allen
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