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  Run Lola Run Full Speed Ahead
Year: 1998
Director: Tom Tykwer
Stars: Franka Potente, Moritz Bliebtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri, Armin Rohde, Joachim Król, Ludger Pistor, Suzanne von Borsody, Sebastian Schipper, Julia Lindig, Lars Rudolph, Heino Ferch
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 4 votes)
Review: Lola (Franka Potente) is on the 'phone to her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bliebtreu) and he's panicking badly. The reason? He is a runner for powerful, drugs-dealing gangster Ronnie (Heino Ferch) and has been assigned to take a large amount of money back to him, the profits from one of his deals. Unfortunately, Lola was supposed to pick him up to take him back into the city but had her moped stolen, so Manni walked back and took the subway to the meeting point - and left the money on the train. Now, standing at the junction where Ronnie will be arriving in twenty minutes, Manni tells Lola that if she doesn't get there by the same time, he's going to take drastic action, because Ronnie will kill him if he doesn't have the cash...

Written by the director Tom Tykwer, Run Lola Run, or Lola Rennt as it was known in its native Germany, caused a minor sensation when first released due to its innovations and breakneck pace. Not simply a race against time thriller, it has pretentions to philosophy as well, with the pathways we take down time represented by three parallel worlds, or three different outcomes to Lola's story: three chances to get things right. Along the way Tykwer utilises all kinds of formats, from black and white and video photography to split screen and even animation as his protagonist rushes down the stairs of her apartment block.

Each version of the story has its own quirks and indiosyncrasies, and the tiniest details can change the major plot points. First up, Lola has to decide on who to go to to obtain the money; after quickly (of course) going over candidates in her mind, she settles on her father (Herbert Knaup) who works in a high up position in a bank. So off she runs, as the title suggests, sprinting to the bank and bumping into various minor characters, whose life stories following her encounter we see in a flash of polaroids - and for each version, the life story is different.

As is Lola's when she reaches her father's offices. In the first, she finds out that the woman he is arguing with is his mistress about whether to leave Lola's mother, and we find out the woman is pregnant. Not only that but he refuses to help his daughter because, well, she's not his daughter. So off Lola runs again, trying to get to Manni before he does anything stupid, only to arrive when he's in the middle of doing something stupid, that is, robbing the nearby supermarket for the money. Needless to say it all goes horribly wrong and Lola decides, as she lies in the street, that this isn't the way she wants things to turn out.

And then we go back to the beginning so she can try again, just like in a computer game. In truth it's difficult to see what Lola sees in Manni as he's completely unreliable and a danger to himself, never mind her, and the interludes where they lie in bed together and have what-if? conversations don't add much depth to their relationship. If anything time is against them here, too, but Potente's determination and desperation make you believe the story, which would seem even more contrived if you were given the chance to stop and think about it. There is, however, not only a vaguely cosmic way that Lola learns from her "past" mistakes, but also a nice moral dimension in that the situation only starts to go right when she stops trying to break the law to solve it. Masterfully executed, Run Lola Run goes like a rocket. Music by Tykwer, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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