It’s easy to forget the power a visual medium like film can have when an audience is presented with little story, but packs in interesting visuals. Our friends at Coral Gables Art Cinema are screening an excellent example of such a movie in showing Tom Tykwer’s German thriller film Run Lola Run (1998). Run Lola Run is a work that, while clearly a product of the MTV era, is visually stylish in all the right ways, delivering a heart-racing thriller through its fast-paced editing and flashy presentation.
The story of Run Lola Run is simple: when Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) misplaces 100,000 marks needed for his work under a violent crime lord, it’s up to his girlfriend Lola (Franka Potente) to get the money in twenty minutes, or risk Manni’s life. Run Lola Run manages to pack plenty of compelling story beats through its short run time, thanks to the simplicity of its premise.
The general theme of the film is the questioning of fate and chance ala chaos theory’s butterfly effect, and if our stories are a product of determinism or our own free will. This movie takes this quandary and puts it under the pressure of desperation to great effect. For example, Lola might start off trying to solve her predicament through reasonable means, but as desperation takes its choke-hold, it drives our main characters to commit to the unreasonable. Even the random passersby, which most films would shrug off as unimportant, get their own mini-stories told through seconds-long snapshot montages showcasing their own struggles and the temptations of desperation, making the characters of the movie sympathetic, tragic, or in some instances, despicable.
The movie’s age shows in places, but I feel that’s part of its charm. The sketchy, MTV-styled animated sequences and pounding techno tracks make the film appropriately feel like a snapshot of a certain place in time. Wobbly sequences clearly filmed on handheld cameras fills such scenes with a sense of instability, while also acting as a visual parallel to the often amateur decisions made by our protagonists. Unlike the planning of our main characters, the decisions made for the movie’s presentation feels like thought out, deliberate, and calculated decisions.
Overall, Run Lola Run is a worthy watch for anyone who wants to spend their time with a nail-biting thriller. It’s a fast-paced ride that I look forward to experiencing again.
You can buy ticket to the 11:30 pm screening of Run Lola Run on Saturday, September 22nd here.
George Ibarra is a Senior at Florida International University, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in English with a minor in Sociology, along with Certificates in Exile Studies and Film Studies.