Run Lola, Run (Lola Rennt)

Run, Lola Run

How would I describe this movie in one sentence? Let’s see. Maybe “Groundhog Day on Crack”? Hmmm… No that’s not it. In fact it’s not even close. The movie does bring up similar questions about time, chance, cause and effect and one man’s destiny and power to change it with small, seemingly insignificant action so I guess I’m bound to compare the two.

In both movies for example the protagonist loops around in time re-living the same events multiple times, and is allowed to experiment with cause and effect. But instead of a jaded and unpleasant weatherman, the hero of this movie is Lola, an attractive young girl with flaming red hair, and an attitude. Unlike Phil Connors (who found love because of the loop) she seems to loop out of love for her boyfriend. The setup is simple. Manni (Lola’s guy) gets in trouble with the local mafia, and must come up with $100k in less than 20 minutes or he will likely be killed. To save her man, Lola will have to come up with the cash, and quick.

We see Lola run through the city 3 times. Each time her path is almost exactly the same, but small variations inevitably sneak into the picture. On one run she bumps into someone, on the second she passes them by, and on the third they never meet and etc.. These small changes end up being significant because they allow Lola to gain pr lose precious seconds and each successive one can and will influence all the other ones that follow it.

We never find out why exactly is she looping around in time like this. I mean, you can figure out that it’s love and determination that pushes her forward. But we never learn why or how this happened to her and not someone else. Lola herself is largely unaware of this fact. She does not know she is looping back in time, however for some reason she does seem to retain some memory from previous runs. For example during her first loop Manni teaches her how to take the safety off a pistol. On the second run, she takes the safety off herself as if remembering it. This sets up a slightly different tone than the Groundhog Day.

There was a sort of logic to that movie – Bill Murray’s character knew that he is going to loop around each day, and retained all his memories. He could plan ahead, and through observation he could slowly gain a sort of omnipotence and exert more and more control over his fate. Lola doesn’t have that luxury. For her, each run is a first, there is never any guarantee that she will get another chance. Despite that Lola seems wiser, and more apt at exploiting using her environment during each subsequent loop.

Phil Connors broke out of the time look using logic, planning, and powers of observation. He could break down his day, plan his activities, and set everything up for success. Lola only has 20 minutes, and she is in a mad rush each time. Her world is one of raw emotion ruled not by logic but rather than fate, chance and destiny. In a way this story reminded me about this quote from Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist:

When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true.

Lola’s universe comes alive and indeed conspires to make her succeed. Unlike the cunning weatherman from Groundhog Day, Lola has little control over her situation. There are many variables that she can’t influence, and luck and chance play a big role in each loop. She has no other choice but to trust her luck and like Coelho’s protagonist hope that it will direct her steps toward the goal. When she ignores this magical conspiracy it becomes an obstacle. She trips, she falls, she is late or to early. Only when she starts noticing the events around her, and takes her cues from them she is able to make real progress. Phil Connors had to take his destiny in his own hands, and be the agent of change. Lola on the other hand, must let go and let her heart guide her to succeed. The agent of change is fate, and she is but a pawn with a mission. To succeed she must allow the universe to propel her towards the solution; she must put everything on the line and hope that the wheel of fortune will swing her way. Otherwise she is doomed.

Should you watch this movie? I think you should. I enjoyed it, and I think you will too. It is fun, entertaining a little bit campy and it will definitely keep you at the edge of your seat. Fair warning though – this movie has subtitles. The action takes place in Berlin I believe, and all the actors speak German. This didn’t bother me. In fact, the streets, cars and the architecture looked oddly familiar. I was never in Germany but I lived half of my life in Poland and it seems that the crappy cars, and run down buildings, and shitty supermarkets in both countries are oddly similar. I also remember using those funky phones that take plastic phone cards instead of change. So for me this was not only and entertaining flick but also a trip down the memory lane.

Get it, watch it, let me know what you think. :)

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8 Responses to Run Lola, Run (Lola Rennt)

  1. Garrick UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    A good friend of mine while I was in the Army had me watch this movie a few years ago. It quickly turned in to one of my favorite movies. I was surprised to see the actress who played Lola show up in the “Bourne” movies (Franka Potente).
    Little film treasures like this one are the reason I always keep my eyes open for international films like this that you rarely catch in US theatres.

    Great review.

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  2. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Already seen it :mrgreen: (I was kinda surprised when I saw the title come up in my RSS reader) I used the IMDB top 250 list as a starting point to watch a whole bunch of films, and Lola Rennt is on there.

    I liked it… the ending was a little… unlikely, to say the least, but I guess that fits in with the ideas about how much of life is determined by random fluke and chance, and her accepting that and letting it do its thing led to success.

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  3. Ian Clifton UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Whenever I imagine what I’d do if the repeating time period happened to me, I always think that without knowing the cause, I would never be able to do anything really fun/bad. I wouldn’t risk doing something that I couldn’t live with (at least, not in the first few recurrences).

    There have been a lot of movies on this topic as well as shows. In fact, a recent Eureka episode–available online for free but I’m too lazy to get the link for you–featured this time recurrence issue, but one interesting thing was that the looping of time was injuring the main character. That actually made it more interesting for me, because there was some sense of urgency (which it sounds like Lola Rennt created in a different way).

    I think there was also a movie called 12:01 or something like that with the same repeating time issue.

    I haven’t yet seen a movie that has a main character who really takes advantage of the daily “clean slate” in any (for lack of a better word) negative way. Imagine a guy who started out pretty average but started getting crazy from all the repetition. He could start out with some sexual harassment kind of issues and work his way up to violence and assault. I’m sure that most of us know at least one person we would consider hitting if we knew the day was going to repeat anyway. Hmm, kind of like the guy in Primer… but take it farther. He could go to the grocery store, grab a drink and start drinking it there, then eat some food off the shelves, and as he walks out and a clerk tries to get him to pay, he could just punch the clerk and keep on walking. Remove the character’s conscience and the idea could become very interesting.

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  4. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Ian Actually I believe this happened in Groundhog Day. I believe that Bill Murray’s character actually stole an armored track, and tried to run a police blockade or something like that at one point. Then he sort of turned suicidal, but of course killing himself only made him loop back in time.

    They didn’t really explore the dark side of this because it was a comedy but yeah, he did begin to go crazy and he did turn to evil initially. I think that Groundhog Day made the point that you would probably get bored with evil at some point. I mean if you are immortal like in Groundhog Day (ie. death only skips you back to the next loop) you can pretty much go all out and do the worst, most depraved shit you can think of. But I bet doing it the 50’th or 100’th time will not hive you the same adrenaline rush or whatever you were getting out of it. Chances are you’d go on a long crazy binge of exploitation, and then eventually start looking for constructive things to do – if nothing else just to try something different. :)

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  5. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Andrew – a little bit OT but LOL! Also VLC is good for what it is – an clean and safe open source project. It also has a minimalist user interface which is something that I like.

    I never really noticed any of the shortcomings mentioned in the movie. I guess these things didn’t bother me. If I want quality I just watch in on DVD on an actual TV screen. :P

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  6. Alphast NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    I saw “Lola Rennt” in Germany, a long time ago. I really enjoyed the film very much. I watched it a second time in France and it helped me notice new details I had missed. It is a simple movie but which is quite true to its title: completely on speed… I loved it and it is a movie which is a perfect example of a generation of German film-makers of the 80’s and 90’s, like Berlin Alexanderplatz or Europa, Europa.

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  7. Ian Clifton UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    @Luke: Yeah, I think you’re right. I vaguely recall him grabbing the groundhog, ramming the blockade and going off a cliff, but it’s been a long time since I saw that movie. The whole time looping would be a mixed blessing. The only things that really matter are things that improve you (such as him learning to play the piano) since everything else is reset, but it would be nice to have a few days to cause trouble ;)

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