In Run Lola Run, we witness three possible realities in which the loss or gain of several seconds leads to drastically different outcomes in numerous characters’ lives. Each reality starts out with the same problem: Lola’s bum boyfriend needs an impossible amount of money in 20 minutes, or he gets whacked. She loves him for ~reasons~ and therefore promises to follow through. What results is the cinematic equivalent of a 5-hour energy drink: a pace so fast that the audience barely has time to think about why things are happening, just that they are. This is okay though—this stylistically flamboyant and ambitious film works spectacularly, largely thanks to a fresh performance from Franka Potente and the best techno movie soundtrack outside of the Blade franchise.
When things finally come to a halt, however, it’s hard to shake the creeping feeling that several important points were abandoned at some point in the race. This is partially because Run Lola Run really plays most like a pro-feminist version of Voltaire’s Candide, sans the purposefully meticulous 1700’s style-pace. In the book (which I heartily recommend), Candide is a wildly optimistic protagonist searching for “the best of all possible worlds.” He spends much of the book trying to find his lost love, only to be completely disinterested when he finds her due to her loss of hotness. Candide marries her anyway for other ~reasons~ and goes on to live a completely mediocre life. Candide is ultimately a story of disillusionment, in which its titular character first sees the whole world as filled with fortune, but ends up utterly embittered.
Accidentally or not, this process of disillusionment is very much a major theme of Run Lola Run as well. In each of the film’s alternate realities, Lola’s naiveté and big-eyed hopefulness in “true love” is what sparks her to commit several major felonies (e.g., armed robbery, physical assault) and misdemeanors (a LOT of jay walking) all in attempt to save said boyfriend. Regardless of the events of the three realities—all of which play like Shakespearian tragedies with a 1990’s style-pace—Lola is dissatisfied. That is, no matter how the events of the day transpire, the emotional outcome seems the same: some form of disillusionment in the true love that started Lola’s adventure in the first place. It’s a moving growth area that I wish were explored more, perhaps one that’s rooted in unprocessed patterns of codependency shared between the doomed lovers. However, this movie is ultimately about the sprint to the finish line.
I can only hope that, in one of these realities, Lola dumps her boyfriend and goes on to start her own cardio barre. That really would be the best of all possible worlds, but I suppose we should be grateful to have what we do: A world where Run Lola Run—the movie—exists.
Watch it When: You’re looking to jump start your evening workout routine.
While You Watch: Which of the three realities do you think Lola would consider the “best of all possible worlds,” and do you think her boyfriend would agree?