Run Lola Run: I wish I was a heartbeat / that never comes to rest
Who are we?
Where do we come from?
Where are we going?
How do we know what we believe to know?
Why do we believe anything at all?
Innumerable questions looking for an answer, an answer which will raise the next question and the following answer will raise a following question and so on and so forth.
But in the end, isn't it always the same question and always the same answer?
Those existential ruminations form both the thematic foundation and the opening montage of one of the best art-house films I've seen in the last decade. If you've never seen the kinetic 1999 movie Run Lola Run (German title: Lola rennt), you absolutely must. This visceral and immediate story traces how one decision can alter the path that our immediate future takes, and how all of our lives are interconnected in ways we can't see.
Essentially one dramatic moment played out with three different possible endings, the film folows Lola (Franka Potente) -- a badass German punk with hair dyed flaming red (I wonder if the Alias creators saw this first) who gets an emergency call from her boyfriend Manni. He has lost a large sum of money not belonging to him. Together they have 20 minutes to get 100,000 Deutschmarks, or Manni is pretty much a goner.
So she sets off running.
As Lola makes split-second decisions on where to turn, who to talk to, and how to get the money that Manni needs, three different stories reveal themselves. The viewer is left with questions of the immutability of fate & death, and how all those small decisions (which don't feel at all monumental at the time) can effect what happens next and, indeed, our whole future.
Images and spiraling storylines flash at the viewer a mile-a-minute (or, I guess a kilometer-a-minute: filmed in Germany). As Lola brushes past someone on the street or throws an offhand remark to another passerby, the movie shows us the next series of events in that person's life with a series of rapidly flashing vignettes, some comic, some tragic. Oh, that we could see those things in real life - it's an absolutely fascinating concept. How many times have you seen someone pass and wondered their story? Wouldn't it be fantastic (and a bit terrifying) to see the next 10 years of their life played out for you in ten seconds of shotgunned images?
I love films that deal with alternate possibilities of reality (like this one, or how about Sliding Doors or Frequency?) and the ways that our lives interconnect without us realizing it. One split-second decision can change everything. Our life consists of the decisions we make, and director Tom Tykwer explores Lola's choices and their ultimate effects on her reality. God love the German philosopher within the director. The movie is intelligent and urgent; you should have some friends over, pour some lagers, and have yourself an impassioned post-film discussion.
The electronic soundtrack is pulsating and relentless, making the whole movie seem to pass in a few minutes. The viewer is drawn in through the triple-punch of the action, the camera work (which seems as caffeinated and agitated as Lola herself), and the music. Together they live and breathe, and breathe hard. Check out two of these tracks. I'm no club kid, but there are irresistible within the atmpsophere and context of the film:
Believe (Franka Potente)
Now you know what to listen to for your next run, if you want to be as kick-ass as Lola.