The Pressure is Rising, The Adrenaline is Rushing, The Clock is Ticking.
Lola receives a phone call from her boyfriend Manni. He lost 100,000 DM in a subway train that belongs to a very bad guy. Lola has 20 min to raise this amount and meet Manni. Otherwise, he will rob a store to get the money. Three different alternatives may happen some minor event along Lola’s run.
Run Lola Run (German: Lola rennt, literally “Lola runs” or “Lola is running”) is a 1998 German thriller film written and directed by Tom Tykwer and starring Franka Potente as Lola and Moritz Bleibtreu as Manni. The story follows a woman who needs to obtain 100,000 Deutsche Mark in twenty minutes to save her boyfriend’s life. The film’s three scenarios are reminiscent of the 1981 Krzysztof Kieślowski film Blind Chance; following Kieślowski’s death, Tykwer directed his planned film Heaven.
About the Story
The film begins with Lola (Franka Potente) receiving a phone call from her distraught boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu). Manni is a small-time criminal and, during an important job collecting 100,000 marks, he relied on Lola to take him and the money to his boss, Ronnie. Lola’s moped was stolen on her journey and Manni is forced to travel by subway but, startled by the sight of police, accidentally leaves the bag of money on the train. Spotting a homeless man examining his money bag as the train departed, Manni pursued the train, only to find the man and the money gone.
Calling from a phone booth, Manni explains he has 20 minutes to gather 100,000 marks before Ronnie arrives and kills him for not having the cash. Planning to rob a nearby supermarket, Manni is urged to wait by Lola, who promises to find the money. She decides to ask her father, “Papa” (Herbert Knaup), who is a bank manager, for help. The main part of the film is divided in three “runs”. Each run starts from the same situation but develops differently and has a different outcome. Each contains various flashback sequences, showing how the lives of the people that Lola bumps into develop after the encounter. In each run those people are affected in different ways.
Lola hangs up the phone and starts running (in a cartoon sequence) down the staircase of her apartment. She passes a man with a dog; the dog growls at her, causing her to sprint faster. Then she is seen running (back in real life, not in a cartoon) through the streets of Berlin towards her father’s bank and she collides with a woman pushing a baby carriage, who is shown to later steal a baby after having lost custody of her own.
Continuing, Lola runs alongside a cyclist who offers to sell her his bike, which she refuses; a flash-forward shows him being robbed on his bike, but later marrying a nurse from the hospital in which he recovered. Lola then causes a car crash, which involves her father’s colleague, Mr. Meyer, and Manni’s boss, Ronnie. As Lola arrives at the bank, she passes a banker shown later to be paralyzed in a car accident, then killing herself shortly after. Then Papa’s mistress reveals she is pregnant, causing Papa to dismiss Lola’s request for help; Papa reveals Lola isn’t his biological daughter, and announces he is leaving his family to elope with his mistress.
Meanwhile, Manni uses a blind lady’s phone card to request money from an apparent friend, only to fail. Lola keeps on running and ends up parallel to an ambulance that narrowly misses crashing into a glass pane carried by workmen. Lola runs on to meet Manni, she realises he has already began the robbery. She shouts his name trying to stop him, but he is unable to hear her calls and proceeds to rob the store. Lola decides to help him. Once they obtain the money, they flee on foot but find themselves surrounded by police. Manni throws the bag with money up in the air, causing a nervous police officer to accidentally shoot Lola in the chest.
Fatally wounded, Lola recalls a conversation with Manni about their love. The movie returns to dying Lola, who is struggling to tell Manni she wants to leave him. She doesn’t want to die, and the film then reverts to their phone call at the beginning.
Lola hangs up the phone and starts running, only to be tripped by the man with the dog; falling down the stairs, Lola injures her leg, which makes her limp. Running to the bank, she collides with the woman pushing a baby carriage, who would later win a lottery. Passing the cyclist, she accuses him of stealing the bike he is selling; a flash forward shows this will lead him to become homeless. Manni, again borrowing the blind lady’s phone card, unsuccessfully tries to borrow money.
After causing another car accident between Mr. Meyer and Ronnie, Lola arrives at the bank moments later; the delay due to her limp allows Papa’s mistress to explain he isn’t the child’s father. Lola hears more of the argument this time and becomes infuriated. Taking a security officer’s gun, Lola robs the bank and, in the process, passes the banker; a flash forward shows her falling in love with one of her colleagues.
Lola escapes because the police mistake her for a fleeing hostage. Passing the ambulance, Lola asks to ride in the vehicle, distracting the driver and causing it to hit the carried pane of glass. Still late for the rendezvous with Manni by moments, Lola calls his name, only this time he hears her call. Manni holsters his gun and walks to Lola, only to be hit by the ambulance, which makes him fatally wounded.
Manni recalls asking Lola how she would cope with his death. The film briefly returns to the present day and shows Manni refusing to die before restarting once again at the beginning of Lola’s run.
Lola hangs up the phone and starts running and leaps over the punk and his dog. Running to the bank, she avoids the woman with the baby carriage, who in a flash forward joins the church and devotes herself to God. Lola also narrowly misses the cyclist; the cyclist instead offers his bike to the homeless man, who uses Manni’s money to buy it. Further ahead in this timeline Lola is nearly hit by Mr. Meyer’s car, preventing his collision with Ronnie.
After avoiding Ronnie’s car, Mr. Meyer proceeds to pick up Papa. Since Lola can no longer speak to Papa, she heads straight for Manni, only to stop at a casino. Betting 100 marks on a roulette table, she wins two consecutive bets, raising 126,000 marks. Approaching the ambulance from behind, Lola climbs inside as it avoids the carried pane of glass. Recognizing the patient inside as a security guard from her father’s bank, Lola realizes he has suffered a heart attack, and holds his hand to help calm him.
Meanwhile, the blind lady from whom Manni borrows a phone card leads Manni to notice the homeless man with his money, who passes on the cyclist’s bike. Manni chases him, inadvertently causing a car crash between Ronnie, Mr. Meyer, and the man who stole Lola’s moped. Manni manages to retrieve his money, trading it for his gun.
Lola reaches the supermarket, but cannot find Manni. A car then pulls up with Manni and Ronnie inside, who shake hands. Manni, no longer in need of the 100,000 marks, asks Lola what is in the bag she is carrying, only for the film to end in a freeze-frame on Lola’s reaction in an elliptical instant before a possible flash-forward.
Run Lola Run
Directed by: Tom Tykwer
Starring: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri, Armin Rohde, Heino Ferch, Suzanne von Borsody
Screenplay by: Tom Tykwer
Production Design by: Alexander Manasse
Cinematography by: Frank Griebe
Film Editing by: Mathilde Bonnefoy
Costume Design by: Monika Jacobs
Set Decoration by: Irene Otterpohl
Art Direction by: Attila Saygel
Music by: Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek, Tom Tykwer
MPAA Rating: R for some violence and language.
Studio: Prokino Filmverleih
Release Date: August 20, 1998