Tuesday, September 05, 2006
RUN LOLA RUN
RUN LOLA RUN ("Lola Rennt," 1998, Germany, Tom Tykwer)
What can I do? What can I do? Come on. Help me. Please. Just this once.
I'll keep on running, okay? I'm waiting... I'm waiting... I'm waiting... I'm waiting...
You can't make a more headlong adrenaline rush of a film than this. There are movies with more action, more explosions and guns and car crashes, but how many have this many ideas per second? The opening half hour of THE MATRIX, I guess, which kicks in like a William Gibson cyber-punk novel but eventually caves, explains at least a bit, though it still shares LOLA's street-tough, heart-pounding sensibility. MEMENTO, I suppose, which plays similar mind games: these films are as much a brain rush as an adrenaline rush, shattered time-lines and spinning scraps of philosophy and backstory flung from every side, a too-intense post-modern overwhelm of syles, ideas, images, sounds – and always the drive of the music, pulsing and pushing at you like you just stumbled into something like a rave, but muscular and with more at stake.
LOLA never slows down to explain. Ever. When it slows down, it's not to explain, it's to mess with you. There are stretches of quiet, whole minutes when the story goes into slo-mo, heart pounding, blood rushing in its ears, but you're screaming for things to get moving, the clock keeps ticking and there's too much at stake to wait for the adults to stand around and talk about relationships for God's sake, or else you get places where they're only finding new ways to play with your mind, change up speeds like a big league pitcher to keep you off balance so you don't get too used to the heat. Some quiet, obtuse talk in red light, then the techno kicks in again and we're off, pounding down stairs and out into the street with Lola to hustle a hundred thousand marks and pound across town in thirty minutes or Manni gets capped. Haven't we done this before? Sound like a video game? I guess maybe it is. And if you're any good, and if you pay attention, maybe you might pick something up along the way that might pay off later. Or not.
I'd love to lay out some detail, how this stunning story is laid out. I might quicken your interest, but I'd also cheat you of the chance to sort it all out on the run, so I'm not going to. I'll tell you the movie's smart, and plays fair: watch it two or three times and marvel how it all fits together, like the engine of a Porsche. (You know those things are hand-made by one guy, that's what makes them so amazing? Same with LOLA: this is pure Tom Tykwer, no compromise. All the tough hope and street smarts, an astonishing eye and unsentimental romanticism, and best of all – to my eye – those hard-won flashes of transcendence.)
Is the race to the swift? Or is it all random, all chaos, cynical as a roulette wheel, as nasty as a punk in a stairwell? Or does it depend where you look from? Here's where I look: I start with the safety catch on a handgun and work it out from there.
Eighty minutes of brilliance. A perfect movie. Crank up the volume and pay attention. Then call me up and we'll sort it out together.
BLIND CHANCE, THE PRINCESS + THE WARRIOR, GROUNDHOG DAY
Available at Videomatica