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IN SHORT: A visual blitzkrieg yielding a totally insane and perfectly legal rush. [Rated R for some violence and language. 81 minutes ]
In German, with subtitles.
Regular readers know that I don't report on a lot of non-English language films. I let the other reviewers check 'em out first, 'cuz we all talk to each other in the screening rooms or theaters and pass on the occasional gem. The buzz was severely strong on Run Lola Run, a German flick which is unlike everything I've ever seen. It isn't that the story is unique: it's another in a long string of "what would I do differently if I could do it again?" stories. The way it is laid out by Writer/Director Tom Tykwer, mixing video, film, animation and various editing and camera tricks, had all the reviewers in the room, by the time it was done, giggling like teens.
That doesn't make Run Lola Run a perfect flick. There's no overriding reason why you see the story play out three different ways (unlike the mystical babble in Twice Upon A Yesterday). Take the director's word for it that this is a love story between a low level thug and his best lady, and that love can conquer everything, like Debts or Death or Dumb Bad Luck. Heck, anyone who's ever sat through one screen writing course knows that everything is a love story. For once, subtitles are a good thing, as Run Lola Run isn't loaded down with the same precocious babble that annoyed the hell out of me during The Matrix. As with that film, the absolute and frenetic action will have you gasping for air.
I almost used that giggling like teens metaphor twice. I must be getting old . . .
Cranky did wonder, when it was over, if he would have felt as enthusiastic if this flick were made in English. All the film student nonsense -- camera tricks, etc. -- that is supposed to be worked out in school has made it into this film. And it works!
The criminal lifestyles may not be sympathetic, but Run Lola Run doesn't dwell on it more than it has to. Manni (Mortiz Bleibtreu), the thug, smuggles diamonds across the German border and fences them for a brutal gang boss. Shlepped around town by his girlfriend Lola (Franka Potente) a fuschia haired beauty with a scream that can shatter glass and a paid in full moped, Manni is about to make the big deal and prove his worth to the boss. But on this particular day, Lola stops to buy cigarettes and is late. Manni panics -- if he fails to deliver the cash (100,000 marks = $53,500 give or take) to the boss, it's his head, literally -- and heads for the subway. There are cops on the train. Fleeing the cops, Manni loses the money and, when he finally connects with Lola on the phone, he is in a state of severe panic. With 20 minutes to go before The End, Lola tells Manni to hold tight and not do anything stupid, like rob the local department store, while she figures out a way to get the cash.
With a throbbing Eurobeat score (by Tykwer, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Arndt) accompanying every move, Lola starts her run. Her dad runs a bank, so that's the logical first step. What Lola doesn't know is that Dad (Herbert Knaup) has his secrets and, depending on which of the three stories is on screen at the time, all of 'em are slightly different.
The endings of the first two story variations will clobber you; like the two protagonists you'll never see 'em coming. The happy ending comes soon enough. Net reaction in the screening room when Cranky saw the flick was a whole bunch of reviewers stuck to their chairs, like at the end of a rollercoaster ride. What will have your eyes riveted to the screen is not the special edit effects, though they will, but the way Tykwer tells the tale of every passerby in the visual blitzkrieg I alluded to up top. Each story variation leads to a different set of visuals for each minor character. You've got to see it to believe it, that's the rush. I can't for the life of me explain the reasoning for animation in the film, involving Lola and her run in with a dog, but all the pieces fit.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Run Lola Run, he would have paid...
We put this at date flick level. Feel free to let your jaw drop. Try not to blink.
28 Weeks Later
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