Sunday, May 12, 2002

Run Lola Run

In so many words, Run Lola Run is positively unique. While I see parallels between this natively German film and its 1999 American counterpart, Fight Club, the instances are only fleeting and probably have more to do with the fact that I saw the two films shortly after one another than they do with actual similarities. Or perhaps it's how both have taken a novel idea and let it run its course, flaws and all, producing something that's much stronger when everything has been said and done.

If the stranger who brushed past you this morning had walked an extra couple inches to their left, what kind of an effect do you think it might have had on the rest of your life? If the message conveyed by Lola is to be trusted, quite a bit more than you'd imagine. The storytelling here relies on three distinct variations on the exact same premise, each focusing on the main character's desperate search for a large sum of money in a short period of time, as well as her interactions with average, everyday men and women along the way. Each chapter begins in exactly the same place, under exactly the same circumstances, yet manages to unravel itself into a story completely separate from the others by the big conclusion. Early in each variation, one or two decisions are altered and the reverberating result to the big picture is examined in close detail.

One woman, mere scenery in any other film, goes from lotto winner to infant kidnapper to bible pusher after her chance encounters with Lola. And that's where the real strength lies here. More than anything else, this is a story about everyday life, and how conceivably miniscule changes can alter an entire lifetime. Despite the imaginative camera angles and Quentin Tarantino meets Guy Ritchie storyline, the real focus of the movie is the interaction with the regular Joe, and the ultimate result of that interaction. Honestly, it's the film's minor characters who really steal the show.

Sure, there are some scenes I'd have done differently. But like they say, hindsight is twenty-twenty and everybody becomes the world's finest director from their couch (or, in this case, from behind their monitors.) You'll notice a few rough spots, but the characters are there in full force and the possibly-complicated plot is handled extremely well, given the circumstances. Add to that the list of risky camera shots which paid off in spades, and you've got a healthy package. As a standalone, this film is highly recommended. The story is simultaneously detailed and complex, all the while maintaining a pace and progression that's easy to follow and simple to keep up with.

The DVD release isn't accompanied by what I'd call a stack of bonus features, but those that are present pack something of a punch. First, and most notably, is the option to watch the film as an English dub or in the original German spoken dialogue with English subtitles... which, if you've ever heard the American voice acting, you'll know isn't really that difficult a decision. Put plainly, the English dub blows. Go for German with the subtitles, and enjoy the original vocal inflections in all their glory.

The DVD is also accompanied by a feature-length commentary with writer / director / producer Tom Tykwer and Lola herself, actress Franka Potente. This one's a real goldmine, if you're into insightful audio commentary, as the two reveal bits and pieces the uneducated eye would have blown past without a second thought. This is really the definition of what a DVD commentary track should be, a polar opposite of the boring, unnecessary Mel Brooks commentary on the DVD release of his comedy, Spaceballs.

Finally, there are the prerequisite Theatrical Trailers, which are nothing extraordinary, and a music video from the picture's outstanding ambient soundtrack. Like the trailers, the music video is really nothing special... it's mostly just Potente mouthing along with the words of one of the few songs with a vocal track, screaming once or twice and looking a bit bizarre without the character's distinctly bright red hair. It's no surprise this single never really shook the charts, but the soundtrack as a whole is definitely worth a closer look.

All in all, a tremendous foreign film with notable cross-Atlantic appeal. A nice mix of action and an underworld crime theme with approachable, sympathetic characters and a very unique, yet easy-to-understand premise. A great flick, so long as you don't mind subtitles.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 8.4

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home