After her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) loses 100,000 Deutschmarks he needs to pay back a gang on the subway, Lola (Franka Potente) fights against the clock to stop him from robbing a store to get the cash. Yet the little unseen details of her rush affects the outcome of the situation in significant ways.
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Few people have interpreted the action genre in such a way as Tom Tykwer has in his 1998 film “Run Lola Run.” The film follows Lola (Franka Potente) in her 20-minute, heart-pounding race to get to her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) before he worsens his already bleak circumstances. “Run Lola Run” is a non-stop thriller that shows its viewers how the little things in life can make a huge difference in the end.
The film essentially tells the same story three times, but each time changes one small detail. However, that small detail impacts the story in such a huge way that the outcome is remarkably different. A mere trip down the stairs could lead Lola and Manni to their doom, or to a huge cash windfall. The people who encounter Lola, too, have very different life results upon meeting her in certain circumstances: a woman may find her true love or be evicted just by running into Lola on the street. The manipulation of one seemingly minute detail leads to such drastic results that the viewer becomes completely drawn into the story, and may even forget that they’re more or less watching the same visual sequence three times in a row.
One of the major strengths of “Run Lola Run” is its visual style. The film is a photographic feast, mixing cartoon, live-action and still photography in a spectacular array of color. The viewer gets the sense of watching a piece of moving modern art or a live-action comic book, which in turn contributes to the sense of suspense already established by the storyline. Vivid imagery, combined in a way that involves interesting and quick editing, keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat and guessing what will come next.
Also significant is the use of music to enhance the feel of the film. “Run Lola Run” possesses a fantastic soundtrack of techno music that keeps up with the high energy of the plot. The viewer may even have to fight the urge to start running themselves, because it does such a good job of establishing the pace of the film! Additionally, the music is also used brilliantly in an ironic sense in certain scenes (most notably, Lola and Manni’s run from the police to Dinah Washington’s “What A Difference A Day Makes”). “Run Lola Run” is a clear example of how music can make an already great film even greater.
The fact that Tykwer wrote the role of Lola specifically for actress Franka Potente (his then-girlfriend) does not go unnoticed. Potente is so well suited to the part of quirky Lola that the idea of any other actress playing her seems unthinkable. Her bright red hair and primary colored clothing is iconic and visually interesting, adding much to the aforementioned visual character of the film. It also makes the mixing of animation and live-action much more fluid and believable. Franka Potente brings to the part energy and intensity that is remarkable and captivating, causing the viewer to wish for Lola to succeed in saving the day even more.
The ending of the film is intentionally left ambiguous. It is possible for the viewer to believe that any of the three conclusions presented within the film’s 81 heart-pounding minutes is the true one. However, on a deeper note, the inconclusive ending to Lola and Manni’s story makes a larger point that perhaps there is no clear solution to their or any story. It offers the viewer a sort of “artistic freedom” to decide how (or if) Lola and Manni survive the situation.
“Run Lola Run” is an action-packed cinematic adventure that should not be missed. It is truly a film that involves the viewer and keeps them wondering what will happen next, despite the fact that the same story is told several times with just a mere incidental detail changed. It makes the viewer think, feel and, most of all, enjoy.This film won Best Director and Best Cinematography, and was nominated for five other categories. The screenwriter was nominated, and rightly so. Taken from a short story that first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1933 by Maurice Walsh, Green Rushes, Frank Nugent was able to weave a story rich in subtext and conflict.
The collector’s edition of the DVD includes an interview with Maureen O’Hara where she reminisces about filming The Quiet Man, and is well worth watching.