Sunday, May 16, 2021

Lola rennt

Tonight's TCM Import is a movie that's relatively recent by the standards of what's on the regular TCM lineup, but not too recent considering what gets shown in the Imports slot: Run Lola Run, overnight at 2:00 AM.

Lola (Franka Potente) is a young woman living in Berlin with her mother who does bogus astrology readings and a dad (Herbert Knaup) who works at a bank. Lola has a boyfriend in Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), and one morning at about 11:40 she gets a call from him. Apparently something has gone very wrong, as he's excoriating Lola for not picking him up at the right place at the right time, and saying how he's going to get killed for it.

Manni, it turns out, is a relatively low-level courier for a group of gangsters who's been trying to move up the ladder, so he took on a job involving transporting cars (I'm guessing it involves stealing cars in Germany and reselling them in the old East bloc which was not part of the EU at the time). The payoff was DM 100,000 (a little more than €50,000), with Manni supposed to take it to another group of gangsters in the middle of Berlin. But Lola's moped was stolen so she couldn't pick Manni up, and he had to take the subway into town. When the inspectors came into his car because a drunk fell down, he beat a quick escape, forgetting the bag with the DM 100,000.

So you can see the bind that poor Manni is in. He's supposed to make the transfer at noon, and if he can't do it, well, you can guess what's going to happen. Manni wonders whether perhaps Lola can get the money from her father at the bank; otherwise, Manni might have to rob the supermarket just across the street from where he's calling Lola.

Lola runs out to try to get the money, although as you can expect Dad isn't necessarily just going to give his daughter the bank's money if he can avoid it. Far worse for Lola, however, is that when she arrives at her father's office, she finds him in a heated discussion with another bank executive, Frau Hansen. Apparently Dad's been having an affair with Hansen, and was planning on leaving Lola and Mom tonight. Walking in on all that causes Lola to miss the noon rendezvous with Manni by about a minute, by which time he's already gone into the supermarket to rob it.

Now, we're only about a half hour into the movie, and we see that trying to rob a supermarket isn't going to work. (I'd have thought they wouldn't have enough cash on them, anyway.) So what happens is that after some philosophical discussion, we see what happens if Lola tries a second way of getting the money. We see some of the same people, notably her father and the other folks at the bank, along with an ambulance that has to brake for workers carrying a plate of glass across a street, as well as some random people Lola runs into, and their hypothetical fates.

I'd seen Run Lola Run several years ago and bought the DVD, but never got around to re-watching it until seeing the movie on the TCM lineup. This time around, I found myself thinking of Before the Rain, which also posits time as being circular. The photo montages of what happens to the people Lola runs into are the one thing that didn't quite work for me, but other than that, the movie is a lot of fun, mixing regular action with animation and sections like the telephone handset reminding me of the way David Lynch made things like the beginning of Blue Velvet look unreal.

If you want a different sort of narrative structure than you normally get, I think you'll find Run Lola Run quite enjoyable viewing.

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