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Review by Jay Rittenberg

Buy the Video

Directed/Written by: Tom Tykwer
Starring: Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu

I just got off one of the most exhilarating thrill rides I've been on all year. I'm not talking about any of the attractions at Six Flags, or Disney World. The source of my cinematic excitement is Run Lola Run, a European import that deservedly produced adrenaline rushes in theaters overseas, and has finally made its way to our local video store.

Although foreign-language films are not everyone's cup of tea, it really doesn't matter what language this particular film is in; moviegoers will universally accept it for what it is: entertaining and worth the price of admission.

Despite the subtitles (which is still a hard concept for some cinema buffs to deal with), what's not to love about this film? It clocks in at a user-friendly 81 minutes. Any finished product out of Hollywood that's worth your dead presidents, and comes in under 90 minutes in length is a gift from the film gods! Not only that, but for those who appreciate an easy to digest story and want to be blown away in a Matrix type of way, young German writer/director Tom Tykwer makes your day by literally throwing everything at you except the proverbial kitchen sink.

Imagine getting a frantic call from the person you love the most, who tells you that they've screwed up royally with the wrong type of people and, as a result, only have twenty minutes to live unless you can do something about it? Pretty mind blowing stuff huh? This is pretty much the gist of Tykwer's story, as he wastes no time in getting right to the point.

The hero of our story, or heroine I should say, is Lola (a mesmerizing Franka Potente), a woman whose striking, multi-colored hair, various tattoos, and get-it-done attitude would make Dennis Rodman proud. She's expecting the usual, routine call from her main squeeze Manni (Moritz Bleibtreau), who's got a far-from-routine job of being a drug lord's errand boy, but the call that comes in is anything but ordinary. Sure-handed Manni has lost his handy dandy bag on a train. The bag contains 100,000 marks that need to get to his gangster boss straight away. Instead of arranging a convenient pickup time, Manni is begging for his life, pleading with Lola to do anything that she can to miraculously come up with the money in twenty minutes time before he meets his maker. Not only does this give Lola a lot to soak in on a moment's notice, but if she doesn't meet up with him with money in hand quickly, he'll proceed to rob the local market across the street with a last-minute desperation attempt to save his hide.

This is the reason behind the film's title. What else can the poor girl do besides run? She has to! She's got no time to waste, and run she does (continuously), but it all makes sense and comes together quite nicely resulting in a must-see recommendation for anyone who wants to be entertained for an hour and a half.

What makes this film pleasing to the eye is the way it unfolds on the screen, and the way in which it is presented. Tykwer tells us his story not just once, but three times. He gives us three completely different, but very similar versions and outcomes of what takes place after Lola hangs up the phone. It's a lot of fun comparing the variations, keeping in mind that the last version (so it appears) is what actually happens. She meets and bumps into the same people and things, but the circumstances in all three vary slightly and, of course, the slightest changes can make all the difference in the world.

This is also the kind of movie that film students everywhere will want to own a copy of since it combines so many different kinds of shooting styles in an effective manner. One minute we get fast action, another-slow motion; another is colorized, while another scene is in black and white. You've got dizzying angle shots that quickly zoom into dead pan close-ups. All this is done with a dazzling, upbeat soundtrack blaring in the background. It all feels like a superior MTV music video that's turned into a full-length motion picture.

All this wouldn't have come together as well as it did if it wasn't matched by the relentless energy of its star. Striking Franka Potente makes it all work thanks to her "I'm not going to fail at any cost" type of performance.

Run Lola Run is like Groundhog Day with a desperate sense of urgency. It also molds itself off in a Nick of Time type of way, always concentrating on the little time Lola's got left to do what she has to do to save Manni's life. In the end, she doesn't let either her boyfriend or us down!

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