"Run Lola Run"

A bracing meditation on chaos, chance and the more mysterious qualities of time, from a German filmmaker who's like a restless kid.

Published June 21, 2000 7:00PM (EDT)

"Run Lola Run"
Directed by Tom Tykwer
Starring Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu
Sony Pictures Classics; widescreen and full frame
Extras: Director and cast commentary, trailer, music video, bios

German director Tom Tykwer's "Run Lola Run" is the kind of picture you might want to watch twice: once to digest the story and once to simply enjoy the visceral beauty of the images, particularly their speed and grace as they race by. "Run Lola Run" is a thriller shot through with a golden thread of romance. Lola (Franka Potente), a punk moll with a thatch of red rag-doll hair, has 20 minutes to procure and deliver the 100,000 marks that will save her boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), from a group of thugs.

The premise is both simple and rich with possibilities -- so rich that Tykwer, like a restless kid, can't resist telling it three different ways. "Run Lola Run" is something like a board game played on multiple levels at once; by the time Tykwer's done noodling with various permutations of reality and possibility, he has fashioned a hyperkinetic meditation on chaos, chance and the more mysterious qualities of time. In Tykwer's eyes, the means are what justify the end: His bag of tricks includes snappy jump cuts, dizzying aerial shots, superfast cutting and animation sequences that bring back that feeling of having eaten too much Trix cereal while parked in front of Saturday-morning cartoons. The picture's most resonant image is that of Lola running down cobbled streets, over bridges, through packs of roving nuns, racing against time to save her beloved, her hair streaming behind her like a comet's tail. While Manni despairs that all is lost, Lola doesn't stop long enough to consider the impossibility of her task. She's fast and tough, like a boy, but the determination on her face is all girl.

The "Run Lola Run" DVD includes an artfully made video of one of the songs featured in the picture, "I Wish." It's a nice little curlicue, featuring Potente and one of the actors from the film, and it, too, shows off some snazzy effects: Black-and-white images become softly colored before our eyes, like those old-fashioned tinted photographs, and then fade back to black and white so subtly that the overall effect is something of a quiet shimmer. And the audio commentary, by Tykwer and Potente, sheds light on some facts that American audiences probably wouldn't know: The movie opens with two quotes, the first from T.S. Eliot and the second ("After the game is before the game") from one S. Herberger -- who Tykwer reveals was a famous German soccer coach. That makes sense for a picture that's poetry in motion.

By Stephanie Zacharek

Stephanie Zacharek is a senior writer for Salon Arts & Entertainment.

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