If you don't like music videos, with techno tracks especially, think hard before heading to the Reichhold Center for the Arts for this weekend's "Cinema Sunday" offering, a German film titled Run, Lola Run. If you do (like those kinds of videos), you won't want to miss it. The story line, which critics seem to agree is only semi-important, goes like this, according to a synopsis from the Internet's Cinemachine web site:
"Tattooed, magenta-haired Berlin girl Lola has 20 minutes to hustle up a load of cash, or her boyfriend, a petty criminal, is doomed. Her life-and-death race is depicted with a kaleidoscope of visual effects — cartoons, slo-mo, 360-degree camera movements, monochrome washes, video footage. . . The film reboots twice before it ends, the quick cuts juiced by a hard-beat techno soundtrack, and the athletic Franka Potente as Lola keeps you glued to the action."
Film critic Roger Ebert sees the heroine as being "like the avatar in a video game — Lara Croft made flesh." So maybe this is a guy picture, even though its protagonist is a gal.
To flesh out the story line a bit: Lola gets a desperate telephone call from her boyfriend, Manni, a bagman in a not exactly legal business. He is supposed to deliver the day's take, amounting to 100,000 deutsche marks, to his ruthless boss in 20 minutes. Trouble is, he inadvertently left the bagful of cash on a subway train, and an addled homeless person ingenuously walked away with it. But if Manni doesn't ante up the take, he's looking at a most unhappy ending. Lola accepts the mission improbable to come up with the money, and off she runs — first to Daddy, who fortunately is a banker but unfortunately tells her to bug off, adding for good measure that he has decided to leave home and marry his mistress.
From there on, her long-limbed quest has her dodging and colliding with various obstacles, some of them inanimate objects, some of them people. The motion picture is non-stop action shot in real time. So how can a 20-minute trek take 81 minutes? Well, mainly because the heroine does it not once but thrice — each time with small differences that affect the outcome and the fate of the characters. That's what the "reboot" reference above is about. Don't read any Rashomon intimations into this cinematic adventure, however.
For Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan, Run Lola Run is a "hyperkinetic pop culture firecracker of a film." The directing and screenwriting credits go to neophyte German filmmaker Tom Tykwer, one of the three composers of the score, too. In the Los Angeles Times reviewer's opinion, "Tykwer's restless, inventive work, the most energetic from Germany in recent years, is about the playful inventiveness inherent in the medium itself."
He describes the film as "in part a High Noon with a raffish punk attitude" and as one in which "the journey is more important than the destination." For example, whenever Lola literally runs into anyone, Tykwer "edits in a quick and amusing flash-forward to that person's future life."
To CNN reviewer Paul Tatara, "all the film ultimately says is that Lola doesn't have any idea what's coming next. . . The rest is (quite intentionally) an elaborate video game disguised as a motion picture." Under Tykwer's direction, this critic says, "There's always tons of unmotivated flash to keep the viewer rattled, and the revved-up pacing doesn't give you time to wonder what the point is. . . It's Ms. Pac-Man meets Quentin Tarantino. I'll eat my dog if there isn't a Hollywood remake on our screens in the next 18 months."
But then he relents a bit, concluding that "Lola and Manni can finally be understood as no more than pieces in a game. So it's impressive how great an air of urgency and involvement this film creates around them and how thoroughly entertaining it is."
The Chicago Sun-Times' Ebert is of the opinion that this is "essentially a film about itself, a closed loop of style." He writes, "Movies about characters on the run usually involve a linear story (The Fugitive comes to mind), but this one is basically about running — and about the way that movie action sequences have a life and logic of their own. I would not want to see a sequel to the film, and at 81 minutes it isn't a second too short, but what it does, it does cheerfully, with great energy, and well."
For what it's worth, the three reviewers used three other descriptions than "magenta" for Lola's punk-hued hair. Turan referred to a "flame-haired Lola," Tatara cited her "bright orange hair," and Ebert wrote of her "bright red hair." Maybe it had to do with the quality of the prints projected.
The film is rated R for some violence and language. It's in German with English subtitles. The 35mm camera rolls at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9, at the Reichhold Center. Gates open at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 and seating is unreserved. To learn more, call 693-1559.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here