Written & Directed by: Tom Tykwer
Starring: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Norbert Von Au, Jutta Hansen
My Advice: Don’t miss it.
Lola (Potente) has just gotten a phone call. It’s from her boyfriend, Manni (Bleibtreu), who as a result of a couple of screwups has lost the 100,000 German marks he was supposed to give to his boss. Because he thinks he’s going to be killed when his boss finds out, it’s pretty evident that this is not a typical nine-to-five job he’s just pulled. It’s twenty minutes until the boss is going to show, and unless Lola can do something, Manni is effectively screwed.
The film begins with a kind of slow acceleration, letting you know exactly what you’re in for. After Hans Paetsch, a German orator of fairy tales, sets up the unworldly feel of the film with his narration (which for some reason eerily reminded me of Wim Wenders), the watchman Schuster (Armin Rohde) states essentially “90 minutes. One ball. Everything else is theory.” Then he launches a soccerball into the sky as the milling people form the title of the film. Wild stuff, people. And it’s a perfect setup for the mania that is to come. The film goes for 81 minutes and almost never lets up, while Lola runs about the city trying to save her boyfriend, maneuvering through an almost Joycean 20 minutes, fates and lives being altered in her wake.
[ad#longpost]Potente is the center of the film, and she spends almost all of it hightailing it from one place to another, God love her. The girl’s in damn good shape, let me just say that. She possesses such a strong will about her, that you believe it when she tells her life “Stop,” and life obeys. Most of the other actors are merely playing their parts as cogs in the wheel of Lola and Manni’s life, but that’s to be expected. It’s also made evident by the fact that Tykwer shot the couple’s footage on film while everyone else outside of their immediate periphery is shot in video, making them not quite real.
Which brings us to Tykwer, who with his style of filmmaking is definitely the other main character. The POV leaps a few stories in the air, it flips about the room focusing on various objects, and it shows the mindseye of the characters as they think. It also takes us down the paths of peoples’ lives in a bizarre frenetic fashion utilizing snapshots. It all adds up to a very entertaining and very enervating spectacle. Moving ahead at high speed for 81 minutes can wear on anyone, though. If there’s one thing about the film that seemed a little weak was how it slumped exhausted to one side and came to a halt (just as you want Lola to do eventually).
It’s a minor consideration, but after so much madness for so long, you expect a little more bang for the buck in a resolution. Otherwise, it’s a fine fine film and should be caught on the big screen so you can gape wide-eyed and not believe what you’re seeing.