Knowing where we’re headed as a civilization can lead to tricky business. Experts build entire careers around their respective talents to prognosticate what’s on the horizon regarding business, economics, industry, art, and the like; but anyone with a pair of eyes and a television set knows full well that trained meteorologists at the top of their game can’t even functionally tell you what tomorrow’s weather will be with absolute certainty. But it’s this knowledge – or foreknowledge – that’s universally sought because if we knew where we ultimately were going then steps could be taken not only to enrich oneself off such an impending reality but also to actively change that direction if the next day proves to be far too much for us to endure. Since we’ve no technology to make this happen, there has been countless stories to suggest some interesting ‘what if?’ scenarios … and now you can add the independent-flavored Lola to the list.
Succinctly, Lola has been the subject of some very deserving praise earned on the film festival circuit. It’s garnered positive attention – and trophies, too – from showings in such gatherings as the Trieste Science+Fiction Festival, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, and others. Also, I think it’s safe to suggest that it’s the kind of feature that just might see a big budget re-do in its future – if I had the ability to see tomorrow – and that would be a shame: at a trim 80-minutes, it’s probably one of the better Science Fiction and Fantasy flicks I’ve seen in the last year. Let’s just hope that if it gets a do-over that producers keep the heart and soul that makes it work instead of investing in big names, pyrotechnics, and some unnecessary screen sizzle.
This is a tale of the heart that only traffics in temporal mechanics of a sort, and it’s quite winning at that.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for the final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the film’s IMDB.com page citation:
“1940. Thom and Mars have built a machine, LOLA, that can intercept radio and TV broadcasts from the future. Unknown to them sharing these broadcasts the devastating changes it will have on their future of the world but to them also.”
As I said above, we’re a society that spends probably an inordinate amount of time thinking about what we could’ve done differently in order to make either our lives or our world a better place. I’m not suggesting that’s a bad thing; rather, I would say that in doing so many of us often sacrifice ‘the here and the now’ as an unintended consequence. Time is our most perishable resource, and it should be expended wisely … and, in that respect, Lola is likely the best 80 minutes one could spend with this cautionary tale about what we lose when we go about trying to alter Fate. Yes, that’s been written and spoken about for ages, but rarely does it get such an economical and effective presentation as director Andrew Legge and co-screenwriter Angeli Macfarlane achieve here in this heartwarming feature.
Thankfully, the script manages to juggle an incredible number of responsibilities – global conflict, love and loss, and questions of right and wrong – with some amazing if not downright crafty deftness. Nothing gets glossed over in the inevitable rush of events, and Appleton and Martini are both awarded their own respective plotlines which they deliver upon wonderfully. All the while, all of the developments revolve around ideas of sacrifice, never stopping to run off in the direction of something that could produce more spectacle or maudlin diversions. It’s a tale of two sisters – and just how far they discover both can go – in trying to fix what they’ve broken along the way, even at the expense of their separate or shared happiness.
Lola (2022) was produced by Cowtown Pictures, Head Gear Films, Kreo Films FZ, and Metrol Technology. From a quick search online (as of today’s date), the flick is available for purchase online via such streaming platforms as Amazon Prime, YouTube.com, and GooglePlay. As for the technical specifications? While I’m no trained video expert, I think it’s fair to warn viewers that Lola is constructed largely like a ‘found footage film,’ so it helps to go in understanding that there will be the usual sound issues as well as some herkyjerky camera work. Personally, I didn’t think this effect was all that distracting, though I’ll admit that the sound engineering in a few spots was only fair. Lastly, as I viewed this via a streaming link, there were no special features under consideration.
Fans of SciFiHistory.Net know too well that I’m a fan of the ‘found footage format’ (which, miraculously, most critics seems to hate), but take note: Lola both is and isn’t a ‘found footage’ film. Essentially, it uses the ‘found footage’ construct – with clearly theatrically edited sequences – in order to enhance what could be an otherwise middling tearjerker into something vastly more profound. Instead of descending full-on estrogen into ‘chick flick territory,’ Lola uses those elements as well in order to ask viewers what they would sacrifice to fix the past, present, and the future? That’s a deep exploration, indeed, but it’s one I’ve rarely seen conducted more presciently in an incredible 80-minutes. Excellent performances. Top notch ideas. Stunning execution. A real winner in the marketplace where drama meets ideas.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Dark Sky Films provided me with complimentary streaming access to Lola (2022) by request for the expressed purpose of completing this review. Their contribution to me in no way, shape, or form influenced my opinion of it.