This film is generally considered to be the best film ever made in Germany, based on polls held in magazines. A more cynical opinion is that most Germans don't understand it, so they say they like it because they're afraid people will think they're stupid if they don't.
Is the film difficult to understand? On the surface it isn't. I can describe it in one sentence:
"Run Lola Run shows how minor decisions can have wide-reaching consequences for oneself and others".
I could end my review there. That's the only explanation anybody needs who's puzzled by the film. However, there are other themes that run through the film.
One is the concept of parallel universes. I don't know what exactly influenced Tom Tykwer, the director, but I see strong parallels with the stories of Kang the Conqueror in "The Avengers", particularly in the late 1970's and early 1980's. Parallel universes are an integral part of Marvel's comic book mythology, but Kang was more responsible for the creation of parallel universes than anyone else because he frequently travelled back from his home in the future to battle the Avengers. We see an affinity between Lola and her parallel selves, for instance in Lola's second universe she knows how to take the safety catch off a gun, something she learnt in her first universe.
Who is the blind woman? She's someone able to see more than others. She sees the results of minor decisions and intervenes to shape the future.
There's also the influence of God. In Lola's first universe she runs between the nuns, but they ignore her. The the second universe the nuns make room for her and stare at her as she runs between them. In the third universe Lola asks God for help, so the nuns block her path and force her to run into the middle of the road. So, possibly, it's not only our own decisions that shape the future but also God's decisions, based on our requests.
Is there a balance between the parallel universes? In each universe someone lives and someone dies. Is this a coincidence or the way that Tom Tykwer sees fate balancing the universes so that they don't diverge too much?
The biggest problem is that even if we know that our smallest decisions affect the whole world we can't act accordingly. If we knew that good deeds would lead to good results we could lead good lives to make everyone happier. That's not the case, at least not in the way cause and effect are portrayed in the film. Our decisions have effects that are seemingly random from our point of view. If Lola robs a bank the cashier will hook up with a colleague for sado-masochistic games. If Lola doesn't rob the bank the cashier will have a car accident that cripples her. So what's right and what's wrong?
I'm glad I watched "Run Lola Run" today. It's reminded me that it needs a high position when I publish my list of my 50 favourite films.
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