Run Lola Run

Year 1998

Franka Potente   as   Lola
Moritz Bleibtreu   as Manni
Herbert Knaup as Vater (Lola's father)  
Nina Petri as Jutta Hansen
Armin Rohde as Herr Schuster
Ludger Pistor as Herr Meier
Director - Tom Tykwer
Screenwriter - Tom Tykwer

Lola's boyfriend Manni (Bleibtreu) is in trouble. He lost a hundred thousand Deutschmarks, about $55,000, that he was supposed to deliver to someone in twenty minutes. If Manni doesn't have the money, this guy will kill Manni. It's up to Lola to get the money and get to Manni in twenty minutes to save his life. So, run, Lola, run! or Run Lola Run.

By the way, this is a German film with English subtitles. In 1998, one Deutschmark (DM) was about half of a Euro and one Euro was worth about $1.1 so 100,000 DM was about $55,000

At least that's the plot. The theme, on the other hand, is that people's actions affect other people. (Duh!) This gives rise to lots of "What if...?" possibilities.

Lola (Potente) runs to Manni and gets there right around the twenty minute mark. But what if Lola hooks up with Manni about thirty seconds too late? What if she can arrives early? What if she arrives at just the right time?

I was really excited by the beginning of the movie. Manni calls Lola and whines that because Lola missed her appointment, he panicked. Then he saw some cops and further panicked and ending up losing 100,000 Deutschmarks to a bum on the subway. I immediately didn't like Manni because he blamed someone else for his problems. But, Lola took charge, so I overlooked Manni.

There a quick edits, a driving techno score reminiscent of a merging between Kraftwerk and Rammstein, and an attention to peripheral things like neighbors. It seemed like good times were on the way!

The second hint of trouble (Manni's "I'm a victim!" peal was the first) was the television Lola's neighbor's apartment. Lola lives in a dump, but one floor down there's a five-star apartment. Really? But on the TV, there is a cartoon that turns out to be Lola racing out of her apartment building. I guess cartoons were big for a while. It really doesn't add anything, but it looks cool. It's the only cartoon in the movie, so I have to ask, "What's the point?"

As Lola runs through the streets, she bumps into a lady. The lady calls Lola a cow and we're treated to a cut scene of the ladies life as a result of the run-in with Lola. It's a quick succession of images that begins with, "Und dann..." translated to "And then..."

When I think of "And then..." I think of Dude, Where's My Car? in which an Asian woman working a drive-through asks everyone placing an order, "And then..." After having spent some time in Shanghai, this is spot on. So even though the words appear in German in Run Lola Run, all I could think of was ordering in a Chinese restaurant. The waiters and waitresses don't say the words, but they seem reluctant to leave no matter how much you order. You can order the entire menu and they'll give you this look that says, "That's it?"

Anyway, this lady that Lola bump into's "And then..." goes on for less than a minute with snap-shots of her life being shown on the screen. Is it her past, present, or future? At this point, you don't know and you can't figure out what happened anyway so it's just as well. Then Lola causes a driver to stop and when he starts out again, he gets in a car accident and gets beaten up. There's no "And then..." for this guy, just a beating.

Lola is off to see her father. He works in a bank. He'll give her 100,000 Deutschmarks. Based on her actions, she thinks he carries that much around in his jacket pocket. Manni's counting on her to save him?

After running three miles in about ten minutes, Lola arrives at the bank a little misty but not really sweating and hardly out of breath. Okay, the movie really started losing me here. She meets her father who is having a discussion with his mistress and he can't give her the money. For an excuse, he tells Lola that she's not really his anyway.

Lola runs again to get to Manni before the twenty minutes is up. She just misses and is shot by police for assisting Manni in a hold-up of a grocery store.

Then comes the twist. Lola, on the brink of death, wants a do-over to leave a little earlier.

This changes the lives of the "And then..." people. Seriously? A woman no longer commits suicide because she bumped into Lola at a different time?

But the action is constant, you as a viewer get caught up in the what-if possibilities, and the music is perfect.

What's bad about this movie? Well, there's Lola. Not Potente but Lola. She's a deadbeat without a job but seems to have money for hair color and tattoos. She's not sympathetic at all.

Then there's Manni. He's got a really sparse growth of hair on his face that makes him look unwashed. He's been a victim all his life and he's involved in criminal activity. He's not someone that would root for, either. It would be like cheering on Dim in A Clockwork Orange.

The idea of alternate futures is not new. In fact, it's quite pedestrian (I couldn't resist!). That such simple things as bumping into Lola a few seconds later or earlier can affect a person's entire life is ludicrous. If it wasn't so absurd (is Lola's father really not her father or is he not the father of his pregnant mistress's child?) it might be thought provoking.

I stayed for the over the top ending. In retrospect, it's a short movie and is at least as good as Bugs Bunny.

There's no nudity, profanity, or blasphemy. If not for the frequent edits it would be boring. The ending is less than satisfying. The presentation is fresh, though.

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