Run Lola Run (1999)

4.0 / 5.0

Viewed in 2000, then twice on September 16, 2005.

In Ten Words Or Less: Don't blink, or you'll miss something worth seeing.

The opening credits of this movie introduce one of my favorite quotes:

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we first started, and to know that place for the first time.
--- T. S. Elliot

I have referenced the same quote twice before here on

The plot is simple enough: Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) loses 100,000 Deutche marks, and the money does not belong to him. He has 20 minutes to find another 100,000 marks or he will be killed. His girlfriend Lola (Franka Potente) decides to help him. We watch as Lola and Manni try to make the impossible happen. Actually, we watch them try three times. Each sequence starts at the same point in time, but we see how extremely simple differences cascade into wildly different endings. This is classic chaos theory, applied to the plotline of a movie. It is fun to watch. The director (Tom Tykwer) spends a few minutes showing us how this chaos extends beyond the main characters. The voyeur in me was fascinated by these side plots. They probably only make up only four or five minutes of runtime, but they help reinforce the notion that simple events propagate far beyond their point of origin.

In Run Lola Run, the director (Tom Tykwer) used every cinematic technique in the books. In the first five minutes, we see odd camera angles, mixed video/animation, split screens showing simultaneous action, slow motion fades, and probably a few tricks I can't remember. The first time I watched this film, the constant barrage of cinematic trickery made me think the director was the film equivalent of the 5th grader who got a dictionary for Christmas and decided to use every fancy word he could find. But on my second viewing, I wasn't nearly as annoyed by the cinematography. Maybe I was just in the wrong mood the first time I saw the movie. The movie was stylistically aggressive, to be sure, but it stopped short of being annoying.

The soundtrack to this movie is wonderfully simple: Hard, driving, steady bass, and little else. Little else is needed.

I have watched Run Lola Run three times. The last time I watched it, I did so with the director's commentary on. I wish I hadn't, because Tykwer explains in the commentary that he wanted Lola to look like she was on a single journey rather than three disjoint journeys. This explains his use of the T.S. Elliot quote in the opening shot, but leaves me wondering: If the point of the movie is for Lola to find a way around a fixed set of obstacles, then isn't this movie nothing more than a German version of Groundhog Day (1993), with better cinematography and special effects? I'm somewhat disappointed by knowing that Tykwer wanted Lola to be aware of her repeating cycle. The person with whom I watched the movie (thanks, JM!) felt that two of the three endings were clearly not the "right" endings. JM was able to offer some evidence to support her claim, but I still think the movie would have worked better if all three endings were independent and equally plausible.

Run Lola Run is ranked #132 by the users on the Internet Movie Database. I think 132 might be a big high for this movie, but I do not regret having spent 240 minutes of my life watching the movie.

Gentlemen: You'll like it. One of my friends has a thing for Franka Potente. I don't see what he sees, but maybe you will (if you are in to freaky European chicks.)

Ladies: You'll like it.