Netflix movie Looop Lapeta isn’t just an Indian reinvigoration of Tom Tykwer’s indie maybe-classic Run Lola Run – it’s also the second movie released in the last six months in which Bollywood star Taapsee Pannu plays a runner (see also: Rashmi Rocket). You may remember Lola as a Very Extremely ’90s Movie, an irreverent, experimental, fleetfooted story about a woman who’s caught in a time loop, and therefore gets a trio of hurried-and-harried chances to race against the clock and save her dipshit boyfriend from being killed by gangsters. Will the three-times tear-around concept work just as well the second time around? Let’s find out.
The Gist: Savi (Pannu) is doing drugs off the lid of a toilet tank. She’s fallen pretty far since she stepped on her own shoelaces and smashed up her knee during a race, destroying her shot at being a track-and-field star. Crestfallen, she hobbled on crutches to the roof of the hospital and was inches away from jumping off when Satya (Tahir Raj Bhasin) stopped her. He was just up there for a cigarette, but he was also there in the nick of time. They fell in love and began an aimless life together, smoking weed and levitating off the bed and generally going nowhere, but at least they were going nowhere with someone else. She works as a caretaker of an old man who’s barely conscious (and is a good source of prescription pharmaceuticals); when he’s not gambling like an idiot, he’s employed in a kitchen owned by a mobster who LOVES to sensually massage oil into a turkey before popping it into the oven.
The mobster gives Satya a simple task: Retrieve my bag full of money, and by the way, here’s a gun if you need it; you have until the turkey is done roasting to complete this task or pow, right to the moon. Of course, Satya screws the poop or drops the monkey or eats the shinola or whatever. Bye bye, cash. He desperately calls Savi for help, who dashes up and around and through Goa, her knee held together with tape, in an attempt to replace the dough before the turkey reaches full prime succulence (at least it’s not a goose being cooked). She visits her father, who disapproves of stupid Satya in the first place; she encounters a taxi driver who won’t drive, because he’s too upset that the love of his life dumped him and is getting married; she’s chased by a goofball cop on a motorcycle. Meanwhile, Satya contemplates robbing a jewelry store, which tangles him with two imbecile brothers who happen to be planning to rob that very same jewelry store, possibly because it’s owned by their father.
Funny, how Savi used to run between two lines in a loop on a track and now all the lines are tangled as she dodges traffic and deals with everyone else’s problems on top of her own problems on top of the big problem, namely, that her BF is soon to be kaputskies. There’s a point where the turkey timer is at 14 minutes and there’s 85 minutes of this movie left, so you know this narrative is about to be reincarnated with different variations on the interactions with the father and the taxi driver and the cop and the imbecile brothers, with our flawed but sympathetic protagonist hopefully learning enough lessons each time so there won’t be a fourth time, or a fifth or sixth or seventh.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: I ponder: Would Memento exist without Run Lola Run, and would Run Lola Run exist without Groundhog Day? And would the brothers-knocking-over-their-father’s-jewelry-store piece of Looop Lapeta exist without Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead?
Performance Worth Watching: I loved Pannu in this – she gives Savi the perfect balance of competence, despair, exasperation and WGAF without sacrificing any of the comedy or pathos of the character.
Memorable Dialogue: Big laugh here:
Savi: Why would you take a bus when you’ve got five million on you?
Satya: I don’t know – because I can’t think beyond 50 rupees!
Sex and Skin: None. TBTTT(AOT)TF: Too Busy Tripping Through Time (And Over Tangents) To F—.
Our Take: Looop Lapeta is too long, too self-bemused, too enamored with its own cleverness, too visually hectic – and too funny. Director Aakash Bhatia takes the lean, mean 89 minutes of Lola and bloats it beyond two hours, but finds enough traction in its many narrative tangents to justify the alterations. One shouldn’t want to merely reproduce the original with different actors and locations anyway; Tykwer’s film was in many ways a distinctively Euro philosophical exercise, and the remake Easternizes it, warming up the love story (in the very first scene, Savi learns she’s pregnant with Satya’s child, and holds that secret close as she runs and runs and runs), and giving the remake just enough oomph to justify its existence.
So this riff on the story complicates the simpler complications of the original, if that makes sense. It’s less a butterfly-effect thought experiment, more an exercise in karmic compassion. And comedy, because this film is stuffed with characters who are clowns – sad clowns, tragic clowns, clowns in wedding dresses. Without the persistent pursuit of laughs, this taffy-stretched premise might snap. I admit to admiring Looop Lapeta at the same time being worn out by it, with its hectic editing and amplified pace rarely pausing to breathe long enough to allow a body to appreciate the visual excess Bhatia crams into every frame, its inspired use of color, clever camera angles and detailed set pieces. There’s almost too much effort on the screen, and by the end, you’ll be completely gassed. Just like Savi, one assumes.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Looop Lapeta is the rare remake of an old(ish) favorite that’s worth a look. It’s more fun than flawed.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com.