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REVIEW: Tykwer's "Run Lola Run" is a Clever, Original European Offering

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire June 4, 1999 at 2:0AM

REVIEW: Tykwer's "Run Lola Run" is a Clever, Original EuropeanOffering
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REVIEW: Tykwer's "Run Lola Run" is a Clever, Original European
Offering

by Danny Lorber




The new German film "Run Lola Run" has an energy and spark that's way
too rare in movies these days. Written and directed Tom Tykwer, the
film's been conceived with ingenuity and startling cinematic savvy. Its
clever, wholly unique narrative concept instantly makes it one of the
more original, unpretentious European films seen on these shores in
years.


"Run Lola Run" should be held as a paradigm for the type of film that
sets up a situation and then, simply, goes with it. Lola (Franka
Potente) is a hip, orange haired 24 year old Berlin punk girl whose
boyfriend, Manni (Moriz Bleibtreu) , has gotten himself into big
trouble. Hired as courier for a big time gangster, Manni's first
assignment is to pick up an illegally earned bundle of cash. When the
job is done, all he has to do is wait for Lola to pick him up. But while
buying a pack of smokes at a liquor store, Lola's vehicle is stolen, so
she is a no show. Manni is forced to take the subway home from the job
and a series of unlucky events lead to him accidentally leaving the bag
of cash on the train. By the time Manni calls Lola, he's at a downtown
pay phone with a huge problem. The vicious mob boss is going to meet him
in twenty minutes expecting to pick up the 100,000 marks and Manni
doesn't have the cash. Lola rushes out of her apartment with twenty
minutes to get to Manni and somehow pick up 100,000 marks along the way.
Its a frantic, impossible chase against time, as Lola finds herself
running not only to save her boyfriend's life, but also to confront her
own fate.

Protracted into an exhilarating 81 minute lightning bolt of film
blanketed by a brilliantly appropriate techno-pop score, "Run Lola Run"
surprises with a certain profundity about love while assaulting us with
one of the most fabulous visual and narrative schemes we'll see all
year. The movie's plot is played out three different times, hence the
first time Lola finishes her journey, things don't work out well. Then we see the
alternative reality take place - Lola does a couple of things
differently to change the results. Finally, after that second attempt
fails, a third reality is offered meaning she has one last chance to
save the day.


This narrative structure provides the film with an opportunity to imbue
itself with philosophical weight, it takes advantage of this with whimsy
and freshness. The movie exposes themes of happenstance - how little
decisions in the here and now are life altering in some way. While
Tykwer's focus is mostly based around Lola's travails, he also provides
us with hilarious, nifty little visual time lines of the resulting life
occurrences that happen to a number of random people that Lola bumps into, shares a
glance with, or pushes aside during her sprint through the town.

Tykwer has been forced to work hard to visually match his frantic plot,
and he totally succeeds. Using animation, video and especially
gloriously colorful 35mm imagery from a camera on a dolly, the film's
images are in synch with its techno soundtrack - there's an urgency and
youthful sexiness in "Run Lola Run" that is superior to almost any other
film in recent years that has tried to tap into such a vibe. The
self-consciousness utter insignificance that marred the otherwise
enjoyable and superficially similar American film "Go" is totally
avoided here. "Run Lola Run," despite its schematic narrative and tricky
structure never feels insignificant or vain.

Tykwer has cast his film perfectly, Potente is a joy as Lola. She's a
free-spirited, urban beauty with the type of hugely expressive face that
is perfect for the movies. She's filled with a certain adrenaline
throughout the film -- we never doubt her desperation. She's asked to
drop all the imbedded thespian eloquence and give a wholly physical
performance, and it's a real feat that she seems more human than the
majority of movie characters. It's a spectacular performance that's
brought to poignant fruition by the way she interacts with stressed out
Manni, played with great nervous energy by Bleibtreu.


In flash back scenes, we see the duo lying in bed, talking self
consciously and inquisitively asking about each others feelings about
their relationship. The dialogue here is perfectly apt in capturing
youthful ardor. Tykwer knows the dynamics between young lovers, he
avoids the passionate hyperbole that we