Young, flame-haired Lola (Franka Potente) receives a telephone call from her boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu). Manni explains that he was supposed to deliver 100,000 Deutsche Marks to a gangster, but he left the bag containing the loot on the subway.
He has twenty minutes to find the money before the bad guys kill him, so his plan is to rob a supermarket – Lola’s is to find the money some other way, and the film follows her high-speed adventure to save Manni as the minutes tick away.
Her twenty-minute story is told three different times, each subtly different in a manner that delivers three different outcomes.
Young German director Tom Tykwer uses animation, camera tricks, colour and black-and-white film, music video effects, and instant replays to tell each adventure as Lola runs, Manni runs, and the film becomes a human obstacle course they both have to carefully manoeuvre in order to survive.
It’s an exercise in surprises, beginning right from the opening credits where a crowd scene turns into an aerial shot in which the assembled people spell out the movie’s title.
Franka Potente had to sprint across Berlin in a pair of Dr Martens during filming. She recalls, “I didn’t train – I probably smoked two packs a day back then – but I was young. And we wanted Lola to look like a real person, not an athlete. I’m not a runner. Never was. Never will be.”
Norbert von Au
Suzanne von Borsody