Bill’s Wife Knows Best Marathon: Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run, 1998)

I used to run a lot, but never with so much energy!

Written By: Tom Tykwer
Directed By: Tom Tykwer

I was searching for a way to describe Lola Rennt. Kinetic kept coming to mind, and certainly that does fit the energy behind the movie. However, when I walked out to the living room to write my review I saw my Wii and PS3 residing within my entertainment center and I knew what better described Lola Rennt. Video games have a lot in common with Lola Rennt, so much so that I would call Lola Rennt a video game come to life.

The film has an internalized reset button, and it has a constant motion to it that is very video game like. The style of Lola Rennt is the entire picture, a slapdash grab for money where the camera shows us so much so quickly that it’s hard to form a concrete picture of exactly where one is in the film at any given time. The exception would be the few moments when Lola stops running, but those fit the video game aesthetic because they represent the equivalent of cut scenes. The film inserts stops in the action that are brief and merely help to propel the films heroine into even more action.

There is a definite lack of story (I know that many video games have great stories, but the lack of story in Lola Rennt is very similar to the lack of story found in certain action video games) in Lola Rennt. While I appreciated how the lack of story and character depth tied into the video game connection it did stop me from becoming fully enveloped in the proceedings. I’m not necessarily a story guy, but I did feel that Lola Rennt needed more story, or at the very least more meat to the story it was presenting. If the ultimate driving force of the film wasn’t Lola’s love for Manni the all style approach would have worked more for me. However Lola’s love for Manni is never fleshed out enough to believably drive the story like it does.

All things considered, I had a lot of fun with Lola Rennt. Tom Tykwer’s film is very energetic and it’s sense of space and the usage of said space was impressive. I liked how the film played with the idea of consequence and the small elements that influence the consequences of our actions. I would have liked the story to have more heft and the characters to be more real. But, I’m aware of the video game aesthetic of the film and that the video game style Herr Tykwer employed worked for the most part. Lola Rennt is a high energy trek through a manic world that is more pixel than film. The run isn’t always smooth, but the way Herr Tykwer pounds the pavement with style makes up for the films narrative shortcomings.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill

Sarah’s Soapbox

Lola Rennt was a movie that intrigued me so much when I first saw it. I went to a rerun film festival with a few friends from school to see this foreign movie that none of us had ever even heard of before. I really enjoyed the movie, but even more I think I enjoyed the experience. I realize now, especially after being married to Bill and being exposed to numerous “different” foreign films, that Lola Rennt is actually not all that different or strange. But at the time I had never seen anything like it at all. I think it was that rare feeling of seeing something so new to me that made it stick so much in my memory as a pleasurable experience.

To be honest the characters are not ones that I found very likable throughout the movie. Yet, for some reason I very much cared about their plight. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason, but somehow the film made me interested in the success of these characters even though they weren’t people I very much cared for. I remember when I saw the first time Lola stops and reverses time and I was incredibly interested after that in seeing how she could make things different or better. I also found myself being so intrigued in the different outcomes of the non-named characters that Lola somehow interacts with on her various trips through her adventures.

The movie was not only different or odd to me, but it was also interesting. The movie was fast paced and used film techniques that I was not familiar with. None of the films I had watched up to the point I watched the movie for the first time had ever used any techniques like those found in Lola Rennt. These interesting effects are what helped keep me engaged in the movie despite the repeating nature of the story. Lola Rennt never stopped being interesting to watch, and it remains a movie that I enjoy watching. The experience of watching Lola repeat her trek over and over again never gets old and Lola Rennt felt just as fresh this time as it did the first time around.

Rating:

***

-Sarah

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12 responses to “Bill’s Wife Knows Best Marathon: Lola Rennt (Run Lola Run, 1998)

  1. Mark Middlemas

    It’s a Middlemas family favorite. It doesn’t quite hold up to my memories from ’99, but it was such cool experiment and it feels like a sincere attempt despite its faults.

  2. Really fun reviews, Bill and Sarah. I’m with you both on your enjoyment and your critiques and you make me want to see the film again soon.

    And Sarah, I think Run, Lola, Run was one of those movies I saw when I first began discovering – or being introduced to foreign films, too! Isn’t it wonderful to discover a whole new world of film?

  3. Mark- Most definitely, the film is flawed, but for the most part the experiment is a successful one because the flaws are hidden by the style.

    Melissa- Anytime I can make someone want to see a film again, my job is done. 🙂

  4. Sarah, This was totally one of those films I watched before I got exposed to a ton of foreign cinema and I really enjoyed it at the time. Coincidentally, I’d colored my hair deep red around that time (random rebellion) and my brother teased me incessantly about how I was trying so hard to be cool like Lola :).

    These are always my favorite posts on Bill’s blog btw.

  5. Hi Melissa, yes, I like being introduced to foreign films. I rarely watched them before marrying Bill. I don’t end up liking every movie Bill introduces me to, but at least it’s a new experience. 🙂

    Hi Charulata, thanks I’m glad you enjoy what I write. It’s been fun doing reviews with my husband. 🙂

  6. Oh wow, the queen has come down from her mountain to end her WordPress exile, I am shocked. 🙂

  7. I’ve never thought of this film as a video game, but now that you mention it, there is a sensibility that it shares with a lot of video games, especially the whole conceit of the do-overs or alternate dimensions/timelines.

    This film is a lot of fun. The story is lite, which is part of why I just like the film and don’t love it. Certainly one of those gateway foreign films I’d recommend to people wary about watching films with subtitles.

  8. More and more people keep telling me that this is a gateway to foreign film. There has to be something to that with so many people agreeing.

  9. I liked this film quite a bit because of the pace of it.

    In regards to it being a possible entry into foreign films I think the stereotype of a foreign film, for someone who has never seen one, is some high-faluting, non-sensical drama with weird camera angles and people talking incomprehensible Deep Thoughts. (Think about what get exaggerated in popular media about them.)

    Now take Lola. It’s about as far from that as you can get. It’s fun. It’s fast. It can get people to forget they are reading subtitles. I’ve loaned this to a couple of people who refuse to watch subtitled films. I don’t tell them it’s foreign. They start watching, see the subtitles, but immediately get caught up in the movie and watch the whole thing. They don’t exactly sit down with The Seventh Seal next, but they are at least a little more open to foreign films afterwards. Another film I’ve done this with is La Femme Nikita.

  10. This is a good film to battle the foreign film myth, I often find that animation, specifically Studio Ghibli, are other good films to show to people to ease them into foreign films.

  11. I agree on Ghibli. I also use these films to try to get people over the stereotype that “animated” = “only for kids”.

  12. Yep, and that is actually an opinion piece I have been planning on writing for some time, that and the fact that animation is not a genre, but a collection of genres.

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