Monday, 20 June 2011

100 days, 100 films; Day 4 - Run, Lola, Run

#97 - Run, Lola, Run (original German title "Lola Rent")

For today’s film I stepped outside the typical US and UK areas and ventured over to Germany. I’m not a big fan of foreign films and I hate French films with a burning passion, and I only saw this film because my lecturer showed it to us in class (after weeks of unbearable French films) and it’s the only film she’s showed us that I actually liked. The style is very different to American films and there’s a lot of proper German themes and motifs used in it.

The plot – is actually not that important. In this film, the plot is only there to move the story along. The girl from the title Lola has twenty minutes to get her hands on 100,000 marks after her boyfriend Manni leaves his drug money on the subway and a hobo makes off with it. Lola’s first stop is the bank where her father works but that doesn’t really work out (to summarise, it involves a lot of family drama worthy of an episode of Coronation Street) so she and Manni decide to rob a convenience store. That doesn’t work out so well either and Lola gets shot dead by a policemen. Wait...the film doesn’t stop there as we then snap back twenty minutes to see Lola try again. There are three separate realities in the film, each showing what happens when Lola tries different things to get her money.

The most striking thing about this film is how it plays out almost like a video game; Lola “fails” the “level” she’s on so the game resets and she must start again until she gets it right. The film actually leaves it open whether or not she knows that time has rewound since in the first reality Manni teaches her how to load a gun, which comes in useful in the second reality. Lola also seems to have powers of her own since her screams make Venus Williams sound like a dog whistle (she shatters glass several times for no apparent reason) and she is able to persuade people to do things for her, like allowing her into a casino when she’s a few marks short.

The style of the film is definitely a lot different than the typical Hollywood film. There are a few over-the-top things in this to make it a little unnerving to watch if you’re not expecting them. In particular there is a sequence of hand-drawn animation that happens at the start of each reality showing Lola’s different interactions with a neighbour’s dog. There are also a couple of flash-forwards in the form of still images that show what happens to random people Lola interacts with during her day. The most obvious of these is a woman with a baby whom Lola runs into just as she leaves her apartment. We see what the woman’s future will be at the end of each different reality as well as others in Lola’s day. It goes into a lot of the same themes explored by films like The Butterfly Effect and Sliding Doors but, if I’m not mistaken (even I make mistakes, I’ll hold my hands up) this film did it first. Up Deutschland!

The film is pretty exciting to watch but it really falls into the love it or hate it territory. You do still get people trying to rationalise everything else in the film as a hallucination that Lola’s having after she’s been shot in the first reality. Word of God has pretty much shot them down but they keep coming up with them anyway. Here you really do have to admit that the day does rewind although it’s up to you which reality you think is the one that counts. Being the positive optimist that I am, I pick the third one that doesn’t end with a gruesome death. The jerk who swiped Lola’s moped at the start of the film (and thus causing the whole problem) even gets his comeuppance by getting hit by a car in the third reality.

My favourite scenes in this are ironically the only two non-action ones. These are wraparound scenes that happen after Lola has been shot in the first reality and again at the end of the second reality. They are flashbacks to Lola and Manni in bed (maybe even that morning) talking about their relationship. The scenes are shot with a cool red filter and act as a nice contrast to the urgent fast paced action in the rest of the film.
 So that’s another film down in my challenge and I’ll be back tomorrow. I’ll give you a little spoiler – it’s the first animated film on the list. As my brother nitpickingly pointed out Avatar might count but the next film will be completely hand-drawn. Until next time.

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