Techno-rich `Lola' is running on plenty

Movie review

July 02, 1999|By Ann Hornaday | Ann Hornaday,SUN FILM CRITIC

"Run Lola Run," an audacious perpetual-motion machine of a movie, combines the best elements of cinema's past and future.

A good old-fashioned race-against-time drama, it also plucks visual elements and tricks from virtual-reality games and music television, resulting in an engaging investigation of film's ability to capture movement, action and the vagaries of the human heart.

Franka Potente plays the title character, a punk with Popsicle-colored hair who lives with her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) in Berlin. It's a pivotal day in the young lovers' lives: Manni has just stolen 100,000 marks, but when Lola is supposed to pick him up for the big getaway, she doesn't show up.

In the meantime, through a series of misadventures that can be traced back to Lola's visit to a nearby shop for cigarettes, Manni manages to lose the money.

"Run Lola Run" begins with Manni's desperate phone call to Lola, begging her to get him 100,000 marks in 20 minutes or else his boss will kill him. The rest of the movie traces Lola's real-time race through the streets of Berlin and, in keeping with the movie's theme of chance, offers three different scenarios of the outcome of her search.

From its playfully ingenious opening-credits sequence, "Run Lola Run" clearly owes a debt to cyber-thrillers like "The Matrix." But Tykwer doesn't take himself nearly as seriously as most directors of that genre, preferring to mix film, video and animation in a lively game that reproduces virtual reality's most visually arresting elements, yet has considerably more soul.

The flame-haired Potente makes a grittily attractive heroine as she pumps her way through Berlin's gray streets; propelled by a techno-infused dance soundtrack, she leads film goers through her urban labyrinth with gutsy aplomb.

Mostly, though, the star of "Run Lola Run" is the film itself, which arrives like a breath of exuberant air in an era of bloated, effects-driven behemoths. In this nervy, ebullient little movie, the point isn't whether Manni gets his money, but the role that happenstance, coincidence and dumb luck play in making crime pay, or not.

`Run Lola Run'

(German with English subtitles)

Starring Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu

Directed by Tom Tykwer

Released by Sony Pictures Classics

Rated R (some violence and language)

Running time 81 minutes

Sun score * * *

Pub Date: 7/02/99

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