Run Lola Run (1999)
Run Lola Run (1999)

Genre: Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 20 min.

Release Date: June 18th, 1999 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Tom Tykwer Actors: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri, Armin Rohde, Ludger Pistor, Suzanne von Borsody, Julia Lindig




un Lola Run” is pure avant-garde filmmaking, wholly succeeding at presenting innovative editing techniques to lure the audience into a plot as nonlinear and sporadic as they come. Thriving on notes of circumstance and luck and harrowing moments of truth, the storyline eccentrically exploits the power of cinematic narrative to warp what could have been a standard heist picture into something far more fascinating. It would prove to be influential not only in its home country of Germany, where it won numerous awards, but also internationally, securing a Golden Lion nomination at the Venice Film Festival and an Audience Award at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival.

Lola (Franka Potente) receives a phone call from her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), who is in desperate trouble. He’s botched a drug deal with deadly mercenary Ronnie (Heino Ferch) by leaving a bag of money on the subway, which has fallen into the hands of a bum. Lola insists that she will devise a way to help Manni get the missing 100,000 marks – but in his desperation, he decides that unless she meets him in 20 minutes, he’ll rob a bank. Lola’s first instinct is to ask her wealthy father for help, but he’s a cold, uncaring businessman, disappointed in Lola’s rebellious ways and unlikely to offer solace.

When her first solution ends in tragedy, Lola envisions a different alternative. Traveling back in time to when she initially receives Manni’s call, she starts again, this time playing out the events for the audience in a contrary fashion, hoping to achieve a positive outcome. It will take Lola a third time to reconsider her choice of actions, retracing her steps and choosing the ideal course to avoid downfall.

The stylistic editing is the first most noticeably unique element of the film, making use of spiraling camerawork, animated segments, quick inserts, choppy cuts, and slow-motion. Lola does indeed run, with a good chunk of the film consisting of nothing more than her perilous journey across town, hoofing it from building to building – in a visually eclectic manner. As she encounters random characters – sometimes as insignificantly as brushing past them while sprinting – a series of photographs are rapidly overlaid into the frame, depicting the future of that character. The same chance confrontations in each of Lola’s substitute scenarios result in varying destinies for these arbitrary roles – some strike it rich while others end in ruin (as if representative of the Butterfly Effect that often interacts with time travel). Though their outcomes are of little significance to the main players, director Tom Tykwer adequately portrays the tumultuous influence on the future that every movement makes, no matter how miniscule the interchange.

At one point, Lola enters a gambling establishment in an attempt to win the funds she needs. Her toying with fate signifies a speculation on infinite possibilities; the film shows the seemingly unplanned nature of life and the unpredictability of every event, perfectly fleshed out by Lola’s imagination. Ultimately, the viewer is left to select the most probable, believable, or preferable conclusion to adopt as true, suggesting that the narrative itself is not in control of definiteness. Singular and creative, “Run Lola Run” is a supremely entertaining import – and one of those thrilling little projects that will keep audiences guessing until the very end.

– Mike Massie

  • 8/10