Saving the German cinema seems like a campaign to save the boll weevil, but with LOLA RENNT, Tom Tykwer did the job. A simple but powerful story filmed in a wildly experimental style, mixing fast-moving action with philosophical questions about fate and coincidence, making for a highly exciting ride — this very „un-German“ movie was a critical and commercial success with international appeal. LOLA RENNT was so much Tom Tykwer’s own vision that he did not only write the screenplay and direct the movie, but he also (together with Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil) created a powerful soundtrack which blended perfectly with the images on the screen. Basically, the LOLA RENNT soundtrack consists of high-paced techno music; the pounding score effectively underscored the desperate running of Lola attempting to save her boyfriend Manni. Without seeing the movie, the music at first seems to be rather bland, a bit generic and not as strong as in the film — but this is a wrong, hasty assessment. After a couple of listens (seeing the movie more than once helps, too) the atmosphere of the film starts to shine through the soundtrack, the memorable visuals of the movie are slowly evoked again until both the music and the movie are logically linked.
Starting with a defining sample from the movie („Lola, if I died, what would you do?“ – „I wouldn’t let you die“), the score delves into relentless rhythms which barely allow themselves to pause for a second — analogous to Lola; the breathless pace is only slowed down in the track „Casino,“ which creates more of a suspenseful mood, and in „Somebody Has to Pay“ by guest vocalist Susie van der Meer, which is a bit creepier. Franka Potente, who plays Lola, also contributes some vocals („I wish I was a person with unlimited breath“), as does Thomas D on the album’s single „Wish,“ proving that he’s capable of writing some highly intelligent and evocative lyrics. As a bonus, the album contains a couple of remixes which rework the original tracks in a more twisted way; the most memorable out of these is Sun Electric’s breakbeat take on the „Introduction,“ Operation Phoenix‘ industrial „Running Two“ version, and Tommi Eckart’s more subdued, groovy „Casino“ remix.
All in all, even though the soundtrack might seem to be disappointing at first listen, it perfectly captures the spirit and essence of the movie, and also stands as an interesting (mainstream) techno album on its own.
This review was written for the All-Music Guide on September 11, 1999.
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