Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Run Lola Run

(Lola rentt, Germany, 1998)

One of my favorite small films. Lola (Franka Potente, the German girl from The Bourne Identity) has 20 minutes to get across town and save her boyfriend from being murdered by a gangster. Oh, and she has to find 100,000 marks along the way. This movie is an in-your-face explosion of action, and every editing trick in the book. Lola is running for most of it (and she does not run “like a girl”) and the camera follows every twist and turn. She is accompanied by throbbing, pounding techno music, the sort I don’t normally care for, but in this setting it works perfectly.

I measure a film’s worth by what it sets out to do, and by how well it achieves those goals. This one sets out to stun you with its constant movement, to draw you in, to leave you breathless, and it scores a perfect 10 in that regard. I don’t understand critics who criticize a film like this for lack of character development. It’s 82 minutes long, for crying out loud. If you want sensitive writing and acting, there are a million films that do that, with varying degrees of success. This one is just for fun, This one plays with your head, and does it brilliantly.

I don’t want to give away too much, but I think it’s okay to reveal that the idea being played with here is the so-called butterfly effect, where small actions can change large events, that these small events and choices reverberate down the time stream. Thus, when Lola bumps into somebody and delays that person for a few seconds, that person’s life will be different from what it would have been. We see this several times, in a quick collage showing the rest of that person’s life, for good or ill. There is also the idea of alternate universes, so that her story begins three times, with different outcomes in each timeline. As we move along with her, many things begin to take on a larger meaning. For instance, in one version she bursts into her father’s office to ask him for money, and interrupts an argument between daddy and his mistress … and the second time through she arrives just a few seconds later, and the mistress has had time to reveal something that changes everything. The film is rigorously thought out, and has a wicked sense of humor. Just terrific in every sense.