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RUN LOLA RUN

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars:  Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu
Director:  Tom Tykwer
Audio:  Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround (both German and English)
Video:  Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic Transfer, Standard 1.33:1
Studio:  Columbia Tri Star
Features:  See Review
Length:  81 Minutes
Release Date:  December 21, 1999

Film ****

What a rush!  Run Lola Run is one of the most exhilarating experiments in purely kinetic filmmaking to hit the screen in quite a while.  But even beyond that, itís a film that toys with the idea that the decisions we constantly make can greatly alter the outcome of our lives.  Itís similar territory to that of Sliding Doors, but explored in a more intense manner here.  In this picture, mere microseconds can lead to, or avert, impending doom.

As the picture opens (after one of the best title sequences Iíve seen), Lola (Potente) receives a call from her boyfriend, Manni (Bleibtreu).  He has just lost the 100,000 marks he was supposed to deliver to the mob.  She must somehow come up with the money before his meeting with them in 20 minutes, or heís dead.  Down goes the phone, and Lola is off and running.

The structure of the film shows the same twenty minutes three times, but with subtle differences that greatly affect the outcome.  Writer/director Tom Tykwer is in love with this idea, and even supporting characters get in on the fun.  We see Lola run into a woman at one point, and in a fast series of photographs, we see the rest of this womanís life.  In a later scenario, Lola doesnít connect, and the outcome is quite different.  This is chaos theory personified.

Tykwer also toys with the concept of time as an enemy.  From the opening shot, in which a grotesque clock opens its jaws and swallows us, to the whole counting down notion of Lola and Manniís scenario, he illustrates this point in none-too-subtle, but fun ways.

This is a film constantly on the move, as you might expect.  Lola runs, and runs, and runs, and the camera spends most of its time tracking her.  The few quieter scenes are welcome relief from the motion, but never allows the tension to let up.  Itís a marvelous example of the kind of storytelling that only cinema could express.

Fascinating also is the concept that we donít get to know Lola and Manni at all, apart from these, the most crucial moments of their lives.  The film is not really about them, but about those intense, desperate minutes where, like in Einsteinís theory, eternities seem to pass in mere moments.

Still, the lovely Franka Potente is a real find as Lola.  It is her energy that drives and sustains the picture, and despite the lack of depth created for the character, her charisma inspires the audience to go along for the ride.  We like her enough to care about the outcome of her story, and thereís certainly something about her pluckiness in accepting the daunting task of coming up with a large sum of money in such a short time to save the man she loves.

One word of adviceÖtry to watch the movie at least twice.  Youíll be amazed at how much more you see in it the second time around, and therefore, how much more youíll appreciate the film.

Video ****

Simply outstanding.  I only watched the anamorphic widescreen presentation, but it, too, is remarkable.  Images are sharply drawn throughout, and the coloring is simply perfect, with natural flesh tones, no bleeding, and a nice, full palate on display.  The razor sharp clarity adds to the overall effect of the movie.  A reference quality disc from Columbia Tri Star.

Audio ****

You can watch the film in either German or English, with a choice of 2.0 or 5.1 surround for each.  Both 5.1 tracks are exemplary.  The soundtrack is almost non-stop techno music, which really compliments the images on screen, and make this one of the most enjoyable experiences available on DVD.  The .1 channel delivers on the bass, and the subtle uses of the surround speakers to carry parts of the music really make it an enveloping listen.

Features ****

The disc contains three trailer and a music video for Franka Potenteís ďBelieveĒ (not the same as the Cher song), plus production notes, talent files, and an excellent commentary track with Tykwer and Potente.

Summary:

Run Lola Run takes a simple notion of time and destiny, and uses the cinematic arts in all their explosive, kinetic power to express and capture that idea.  This is an original, terrific film presented on a perfect DVD, and is no doubt a run youíll want to make time and time again.