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“Run Lola Run” 25th: Still racy after all these years

Run Lola Run

Starring Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu. Written and directed by Tom Tykwer. Returning to cinemas for 25th anniversary screenings at the Fox Theatre (June 8 and 11) and TIFF Lightbox (July 11, free for members). Also available on multiple streaming services. 81 minutes. PG

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (out of 4)

Peter Howell

Movie Critic

Tom Tykwer’s punk romance “Run Lola Run,” released in North America in 1999, helped send the 1990s out with a burst of furious style and energy. It’s back in theatres in restored 4K glory for a 25th anniversary run. Here’s my Toronto Star review from ‘99:

Just in time for the tail of the non-stop 1990s comes “Run Lola Run,” an innovative German movie which hits the senses and pumps the blood like an Olympic marathon.

A hit at the most recent Toronto, Sundance and Seattle festivals, and Germany's entry in the race for the best foreign film Oscar, it's akin to watching the obscure '60s TV sitcom “Run, Buddy, Run” as filtered through the scene-shifting perspective of Akira Kurosawa's “Rashomon.”

However you view it, you'll feel as if you're pounding the pavement along with Franka Potente, the vital force who writer- director Tom Tykwer has set loose in the title role.

As carrot-topped punker Lola, who is literally running to save her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) from a murderous gangster, she's as propulsive as the techno soundtrack that fuels her fire. Music is so much a part of “Run Lola Run,” it could be seen as a longform video.

Lola is running because Manni, a courier for a gangster, has failed to deliver 100,000 marks (about $100,000) to his impatient boss. Manni is about to be fired - in the most direct manner possible.

He has 20 minutes to live.

He telephones his faithful girlfriend for help, and she dashes out on to the cobblestones, trying frantically to save him. She has one ace up her sleeve: a rich father. But daddy is not the most generous of guys, and he's preoccupied with his mistress.

There's a lot of other hurdles for Lola to leap, including traffic, wayward glass panes and bothersome nuns, babies and dogs.

Can Lola pull it off? There's a cartoonish quality to the movie, but Tykwer keeps us interested by following the action almost in real time, and by showing us three different versions of how Lola runs for Manni. There are different obstacles and resolutions in each one.

At 81 minutes, “Run Lola Run” seems over before you've had a chance to draw a single breath.

Tykwer ups the adrenalin with a fast-forward technique that gives instant backgrounders on some of the people Lola flashes by.

It's dizzying, almost like having your life flash before your eyes.

But it's a rush, just like the movie.

(This review was originally published in the Toronto Star.)


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