“Born to ‘Run'”
by Scott Mantz

“Run Lola Run”
Franka Potente,
Moritz BleibTreu
Directed by Tom Tykwer

When it comes to cars and films, sometimes foreign is the best way to go. If you don’t believe me about the latter, then check out “Run Lola Run”–a film so fast and furious, you forget you’re watching a movie with subtitles. The notion of how one small action can change your life is nothing new (“Its a Wonderful Life”, “Sliding Doors”), but this time it has a fresh new look. “Run Lola Run” is “Sliding Doors” on acid. With its razor-sharp editing, hyper-kinetic pace, and a killer score, it’s a Martin Scorcese film for the MTV generation.

Lola (Franka Potente), the unlikely post-punk heroine, has exactly 20 minutes to come up with 100,000 marks (about $50,000), or her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) is a dead man. It seems he forgot what was in the bag when he left it on the subway, just to be claimed by a homeless derelict. Facing imminent death, and furious at his own blunder, he’s desperate enough to rob the local chain store to pay off his mobster boss if Lola doesn’t come through, and fast.

Third time may be a charm, but this time its a lifesaver. We see the scenario played out three times until she gets it right, each time bursting with irony. Each version differs because of alternate actions taken. The consequences are extreme, especially to the passersby she comes into contact with. In a split second montage of Polaroid snapshots, we see their life stories played out with different outcomes–some disastrous, others hilarious.

Even more ironic is the relationship between Lola and Manni. Manni may be a mixed-up drug-runner, and Lola’s home life may be a mess, but they obviously have a strong bond. They are not people that you’d necessarily want to be friends with, but everybody loves to root for the underdog. Lola, the tattooed, cherry red-headed heroine (think Elizabeth Shue on a bad hair day) is the ultimate underdog. Her determination and desperation keeps you rooting for her.

It’s this approach that gives “the road not taken” premise a much-needed facelift. The soundtrack underscores the film like a pulse. By jumping from animation to live action and using different film stock, German filmmaker Tom Tykwer keeps the repetition from becoming mundane.

The filmmakers of the next generation are under enormous pressure. If they don’t have the Tom Hank’s and the Harrison Ford’s attached to their films, then most likely the big studios won’t finance and distribute them. Being hampered by budgetary constraints, filmmakers can come up with alternate ways to shoot their movies, and out of adversity an exciting film like this is born. In this case, it’s born to run.