A film that sprinkles spine-tingling chills for its entire 81 minutes, Lola Rennt (known in the U.S. as Run Lola Run) is an intensely satisfying fusion of driving techno music and stunning visuals. Tom Tykwer's hip, German-language thriller is known primarily for its unique structure -- part video game, part choose-your-own-adventure -- which propels Franka Potente's feisty yet vulnerable Lola through three versions of a plan to secure an impossible sum of money in the next 20 minutes. But it's the details within that structure that sometimes escape critics' attention. In one original device, Tykwer follows the lives of the people Lola blows past, and how that split-second interaction helps determine the next months or even years of their lives. As they turn to stare or shout an insult, Tykwer zooms in on their faces, kicking off a flurry of snapshots that serve as chilling portents and bracing commentary on the interconnectedness of random events. Lola's initial idea for getting the money is the same each time, meaning that the viewer thrice watches very similar footage, but it's the small variations that make it newly engaging each time. The sequences are separated by the film's only quiet moments -- touching flashbacks of pillow talk in which Lola and Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) reveal their deepest insecurities. Shot through a gauzy red filter, these moments provide stark contrasts to the brashness of the rest of the film. The action is fueled throughout by pumping rave music, much of it composed by Tykwer himself. The resulting package is a spike of adrenaline that should thrill anyone who appreciates a smart concept executed at a frenetic pace.
by Derek Armstrong review