Film / Run, Lola, Run

Lola rennt (known as Run, Lola, Run in English-speaking countries) is a 1998 German film. Unique and varied, the film is difficult to assign to any specific genre. Instead, think of this movie as a video game style exploration of love and fate that blends animation sequences with live footage, except that it's techno, fast, and features a red-haired German woman who spends most of the movie running.

After his girlfriend Lola's scooter is stolen, Manni, a courier for a crime boss, accidentally leaves 100,000 Deutschmarks on the subway, where it's stolen by a homeless man. He's dead if he doesn't bring it in, so he decides to rob a grocery store in order to make up for the loss. He helpfully informs Lola of this 20 minutes beforehand. Lola, whose father is a wealthy banker, decides to see if she can get Manni's money for him.

The film is perhaps most famous for its video game parallels: several times throughout the movie, Lola suddenly dies, and the story starts over, with Lola making subtly different decisions this time around that greatly affect the outcome.

This film provides examples of:

  • Animated Credits Opening: The opening of the movie, and some scenes during the movie, are changed into animated footage. For example, during one of the runs, Lola trips on the stairs past the man with the barking dog, the fall is shown is animated and it turns back into live-action when she lands on the floor.
  • Anti-Role Model: Virtually everyone in the film, from the bike thief, moped thief, homeless thief, struggling unemployed criminals, vain unfaithful wife, workaholic unfaithful husband...
  • Anti-Villain: Arguably Lola and Manni, who are both apparently unrepentant smugglers, though shown sympathetically.
  • Arc Number: 20. Lola has twenty minutes to get the money, the first and third runs last twenty minutes and 20 is the number she bets on at the casino.
  • Big Heroic Run: Lola has twenty minutes to come up with one hundred thousand Marks, and her scooter was stolen prior to the intro. As a result, she is forced to get around Berlin by running.
  • Big "WHAT?!": A furious Lola gives one to the woman in the bank in the second run before she robs it.
  • Blind Seer: In the third loop the blind woman by the phone box knows, as if by magic, that the tramp with the money is about to cycle by.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Lola's glass-shattering screams. Used twice early on, then she uses it in the casino on her second bet and it seems to give her the win and earning her the money she needs to help Manni.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Zig-Zagged. When Lola takes part in the armed robbery in the first loop, Manni tells her how to turn the safety catch of a gun off. In the second loop she "remembers" this for when she stages her own robbery at the bank.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: The colours of red and yellow appear in the film a lot to signify danger. Examples of red include Lola's hair, the phone, several cars, and a shop front Lola runs past early on in the runs. Examples of yellow include the phone booth, the tram, and the supermarket.
  • Cultural Translation: The English dub replaces the Deutschmarks with dollars.
  • Death by Pragmatism: According to Word of God, the man on the moped who dies in the third loop is the same man who robbed Lola's moped earlier in the day so he gets his comeuppance.
  • Dramatic Irony: Lola runs past the bum that robbed the money only a few seconds after she leaves the house in each loop not knowing who he is.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: "Besides, I could never have fathered a freak like you..." "Yeah but you did, jerk!" "No I didn't!"
  • Flash Forward: The futures of some of the people Lola meets on her journeys are shown through Blipverts, and the same people get different futures depending on the loop, and how their own minor interactions with Lola went. One old lady, who gets a Flash in each loop, was shown to lose custody of her child and kidnap another baby, win the lottery and live a life of decadence, or become a devout Catholic depending on whether Lola bumped into her or not.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When the phone lands after Lola tosses it away in the first run, a cartoon image of the croupier from the casino in the third run appears briefly.
    • Before Lola starts running in the first run, you see Lola's father shake his head. This tells the audience right away he is not going to give her the money she needs.
    • In the second run of the film when Lola robs the bank, you can see the security guard having chest pains. In the third run, Lola hitches a ride in the ambulance and finds the same security guard having suffered a heart attack.
    • when Lola is trying to decide where to go the camera spins around her as people flash by, this foreshadows the Roulette win in the final loop.
  • For Want of a Nail: The differences in the three timelines are caused by various minor events that cumulatively slow down or hurry Lola's journey. In a more focused manner, when Lola impacts someone's life, the audience sees a quick few polaroids of how their life changed as a result of the incident.
    • Also, if Lola's moped hadn't been stolen, the events of the film wouldn't have happened.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: The film's events loop over and over until Lola stops getting the Downer Endings.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: Lola's 'parents', who are both cheating on each other.
  • I Am Not Your Father: Lola's Papa reveals to her that he is not her father when he asks him for money in the first loop.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Though they're portrayed as the heroes of the piece, Lola and Manni need the money in the first place as they are both accomplices in a diamond smuggling operation. However, in the third loop they get away scot free (and with 100,000 Marks!).
    • When Lola's father swerves into the wrong lane to avoid Manni and the homeless man running across the road, he crashes into a white BMW, which is then hit from behind by the moped thief who stole Lola's scooter (setting the whole plot in motion). However, while Lola's father and Mr. Meyers are knocked unconscious and the moped driver seems to be dead, the only people unharmed are the occupants of the BMW... Manni's crime boss and his underlings.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The "good" ending is the only one in which Lola doesn't try armed robbery. In the same run, the man riding the moped and involved in the car crash is apparently the same man who stole Lola's moped, so he gets his comeuppance in the end.
  • Love Transcends Spacetime: See "The Power of Love," below.
  • Magic Countdown: The loops last a little longer than twenty minutes.
  • Magic Realism: Lola appears to have screams that can shatter glass as well as possible powers of being able to persuade people to do things for her. She also remembers certain things she learned in separate loops.
  • Make Me Wanna Shout: Lola's shouting can shatter glass.
  • Medium Awareness: In the third loop, Lola arrives at the bank just after her father has left. While she's watching him drive away, the security guard comes outside for a smoke and says "About time you showed up." He and Lola then have a moment of contemplation as they realize what he just said.
  • The Mistress: Lola's father has one. In the first loop, he agrees to leave his family for her and raise his illegitimate child. In the second loop, where Lola is a little slower, he learns that he's actually not the father of the child and explodes at his mistress.
  • One True Love: The concept of there being one true love in a person's life is discussed in one of the interludes, where Lola and Manni consider what would happen to the other person if one of them died:
    Manni: [...] And then a man with these really big green eyes shows up at the door... And he's so super cool and compassionate, and he'll listen to you talk your heart out all night long until your ears drop off ... Then you'd hop into his lap, cross me off your list, and that'll be the end of me!
    Lola: But Manni... you're not about to die.
  • Police Are Useless: In the first loop, a police officer accidentally shoots Lola. In the second, the police doesn't bother her, presumably because of her innocuous appearance.
    • They may have mistaken her for a hostage/bystander since she had no weapons due to dropping her gun inside or thought she was part of the cleaning staff, due to coming out with a trashbag in hand. (Said trashbag holding the stolen money in it)
  • Recycled In Space: The American independent film And Then Came Lola is Run Lola Run with lesbians!
  • Red-Headed Heroine: Lola, the main character and the film's protagonist, has red hair, ensuring that she always stands out on screen.
  • Rule of Cool: Do we really care why Lola is looping and why she is able to learn things from certain loops and why her screams can shatter glass? No, not really. It's just cool.
  • Sheet of Glass: In the second run, the ambulance Lola tries to hitch a ride on runs through a pane of glass. The delay causes the driver to hurry and run over Manni in the street. In the third run, the ambulance is able to stop in time.
  • Shout-Out: To the movie Vertigo: the use of spirals and there is also a painting in the casino which was painted to look like the shots of the back of Kim Novak's head.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: When Manny and Lola talk on the phone.
  • Wealthy Ever After: In the final loop, Lola wins one hundred thousand Marks, the approximate equivalent of fifty thousand euros, at the casino to make up for the money Manni lost at the start of the movie. However, Manni also manages to recover the lost money and get it to his crime boss without any further problems.

Alternative Title(s): Lola Rennt