Run Lola Run

1998, Movie, R, 87 mins


What a blast! German writer/director Tom Tykwer tells one story three times, varying the outcome with each go-round: The constant is resourceful redhead Lola (Franka Potente), a scruffy beauty with a scream that shatters glass and a boyfriend named Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), who's messed up a job for a small-time crime lord and better come up with a whole lot of money in 20 minutes or he's dead meat. Manni calls Lola, and Lola comes running — literally. She bolts out of the house and tears through the streets, nimble brain going as fast as her feet in search of some way out of what appears to be an impossible test of devotion. Granted, this sounds like the same old reckless youth stuff, but it's not. First, it's unusually clever, colorful and gleefully anarchic in its mix of color, B&W, animation and other filmmaking tricks: Lola's random encounters with a mother pushing a baby carriage, for example, touch off a series of possible futures for the woman (which unfold through a rapid-fire series of stills), depending on whether they collide or Lola just sweeps past. And second, it is like a video game in which some cosmic cinematic reset button gets pushed every time the story paints itself into a corner, but it's not just some shallow exercise in smarty-pants film-geek bravado. The film's extra-special trick, the one that kicks in under your radar because it's so busy with all the flash, is that it makes you care deeply for Lola and Manni. Credit goes in large part to the radiant Potente, who's got an ocean of charisma under the tattoos and flame-colored hair, and Bleibtreu, who sneaks an endearing sweetness into Manni's slightly doltish manner. But Tywker's script gives them the room to work: He's one to watch. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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