Cinetreasure: Run Lola Run (1998)

A young woman receives a frantic call from her boyfriend exclaiming he must come up with 100,000 German Marks in twenty minutes or he's dead.

Stars: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup

Rating: R

If life were a game of soccer, what split-second decisions would you make in the inevitable scuffle charging your way? With throbbing techno rhythms, ticking clocks, and pulsing heartbeats, the sights and sounds of Run Lola Run engulf the viewer in a series of events that seek to depict life as a game of fate, destiny, and chance.

The narrative timeline unfolds in the form of three, distinct, circular patterns. As Lola (played by Franka Potente: The Bourne Identity, Blow) races to help her boyfriend, Manni (played by Moritz Bleibtreu: Munich, Fandango), we see that Lola's interaction with various characters instigates extreme change in their futures as well as her own. Through several sequences of rapid-fire, photographic imagery, successive snapshots reveal radical, life-altering repercussions.

To further highlight the circular nature of this story, German writer/director Tom Tykwer uses a number of spiral patterns, both subtle and overt to suggest that everything we do has a ripple (circular) effect on the lives of others. Be sure to look for clever ways the spirals make themselves known in the structures of various locations and on specific objects.

Traditional animation techniques sprinkled throughout bolster the message that every "frame", every act, every human event, every split second in our lives is the inevitable consequence of occurrences that came before. Manni's and Lola's past catch up with them to create a dire series of circumstances, spawning their own vastly different approaches to handling the problem at hand.

Primary colors are dominant and highly symbolic throughout. Lola is surrounded by the color red, which symbolizes her character traits, especially her determined and impassioned spirit. Red, in filmmaking, commonly serves as a metaphor for life, and ironically death, but also for vitality, intensity, and passion. All of these aspects apply in this movie.

Additionally, note how the color yellow is primarily reserved for Manni. And without coincidence, the color of money pops up in interesting ways as well.

Twenty minutes is all Lola has to either succeed or fail. The number "twenty" surfaces frequently. Keep your eyes peeled.

The most difficult storytelling feat a screenwriter faces is finding a way to consistently surprise the audience with new and unexpected situations springing forth along the cinematic journey. In Run Lola Run, there's not a single moment that's expected or cliché.

You are constantly struggling to decipher where the tale will take you and the characters next. It makes for great fun, especially given the rapid pace of the drama which evokes all the energy and urgency toward life this film wants us to feel and embrace.