Movie Magazine International

Run Lola Run

Germany - 1998

Movie Review By Andrea Chase

There are many wonderful things about being a member of the reviewing press. There are, of course, the free movies. But, hands down, the best thing about seeing movies before anyone else is that you can walk into most of them without knowing a thing about what's going to happen. Thus at 9:30 on an April morning at a press screening for the San Francisco International Film Festival did I discover Tom Tykwer's giddily original film "Run Lola Run." This charismatic German import is about the infinite possibilities embodied within the same 20 minutes of elapsed time and if I had my way, that's just about all I'd tell you aside from an urgent and heart-felt plea to see it before anyone spoils it for you. Failing that, let me say that if, for some reason, you should find the volume of your radio turned down for the next, o say, minute and a half, it mightn't be a tragedy.

The eponymous Lola, played by Franka Potente sporting tutti-frutti hair, gets a call from her feckless boyfriend, Mani, who's lost 100,000 Duetsche marks and will be dead in 20 minutes if he can't find a way to come up with the cash. Lola sprints into action, running across town in search of the money. In fact, most of the film is of her running, flat out, and heaven help anyone who crosses her path or her mission.

Potente possesses the physical stamina required for the role, but also brings a steely-eyed determination that makes the ingenious plot twist work. When she tells Mani not to worry, that in the face of hopeless odds, everything will be alright, you don't doubt it for a moment. She exudes such drive, that when things go awry, it's no stretch to believe that the power of her love can turn back the hands of time. In point of fact, nothing seems more natural. We're back at Lola's apartment

It's not just Lola's life that changes each time, but also those of the people she encounters, however briefly. A half-second's difference, a near miss instead of a collision, and the same person finds true love in one time line and suicide in another. Each ancillary scenario is played out as a series of photographs that tell us everything we need to know in ten seconds or less. (Time, after all, is of the essence in this flick.) Also sublime are the subtleties Herr Tykwer sprinkles throughout, particularly the score, which he co-wrote, that has all the prescience of a Greek chorus and a lot more wit. Plus he's paced the film so that while the energy never dips, there are pauses that allow the audience to catch its collective breath and gear up for the next round.

With "Run Lola Run," Tykwer challenges our notions of fate and free-will, and, in the process may have created a whole new film genre - cardio-cinema.

© 1999 - Andrea Chase - Air Date: 5/99

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