Run Lola Run 1998 ★★★★

I was expecting to like this film a lot more than I did. I’m a big fan of unusual narrative styles, and from what I’d heard this was definitely going to be my kind of film. Truth be told, though, it didn’t grab me as firmly as I’d hoped.

That’s not to say it’s a bad film. As an exploration of the concept, it works very well. Being divided into three different “runs” of the same twenty-minute period, the film explores just how much difference a few seconds can make. We see three different versions of Lola’s day, one after the other, and they are all very different. The branching point is an event on the stairs descending from Lola’s apartment, the outcome of which affects the time it takes her to get out of the front door. The difference is only a second or two, but we get to see just how much a second can change things - the three different runs have three very different endings, with character’s lives literally depending on how Lola handles the event on the stairs. It’s something we’ve all wondered about - just how much do minor events affect the course of our lives? - and the film’s suggestion is well-delivered and interesting to watch.

It’s also not the kind of film you’ll find yourself getting bored with - as the title implies, Lola spends a significant portion of the film running, and the result is a very kinetic and tense feel overall. The three scenarios vary enough that you don’t get bored with them, while re-using scenes and shots in such a way that it’s not difficult to figure out where the three timelines intersect and why each event turns out differently. It strikes a good balance between the new and the familiar, so it’s not too confusing.

However, there’s not much weight to the film. Despite the concept being interesting, there’s not much that will make you want to root for the protagonists, and the story is not told with any gravity. When you come out at the other end of the film, there’s nothing you’ll be left pondering, and there are no climactic scenes that really stick in the mind. You can put it down to being an inherent product of the twenty-minute conceit - not easy to fully develop characters and story in twenty minutes - but a similar gimmick was used in Los Cronocrimines/Timecrimes (a film I’m surprised isn’t in the thousand and one), and that was a much more involving movie with an excellent character study.

Overall, I liked it, but I don’t think it’s really up there in my list of “good” films. An interesting experiment, but overall, not a must-see film.

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