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Film / Run Lola Run

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Lola rennt (known as Run Lola Run in English-speaking countries) is a 1998 German film directed by Tom Tykwer and starring Franka Potente and Moritz Bleibtreu. 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 Berlin U-Bahn, 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, either Lola or Manni suddenly die and the story starts over, with Lola making subtly different decisions this time around that greatly affect the outcome.

This film provides examples of:

  • Alcoholic Parent: Hinted at with Lola's mother. Her father's mistress describes her as "drunk from morning to night", and the one time we actually see her, she has a drink in her hand before noon.
  • Animated Credits Opening: The opening titles, 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 kid with the barking dog, the fall shown is animated and then 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, and 20 is the number she bets on at the casino.
  • Badass Normal: Besides her constant running, Lola performs some pretty intense stunts in her rush to solve her problem, including sliding effotlessly off the hood of a moving car.
  • 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 loop 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.
  • Broken Aesop: The first loop, wherein Manni obtains the money by robbing others, ends with Lola's death. The second loop, wherein Lola obtains the money by robbing others, ends with Manni's death. Only the last loop, in which both Lola and Manni obtain the money on their own through honest means, ends safely for both of them. Unfortunately they both happen to work as professional criminals, so at the end of the day they're still living immoral lives and likely learned nothing from the experience.
  • Butterfly of Doom: The minor variations in the interactions Lola has with strangers along her three runs create enormous differences in their futures. If the events resetting are to be seen as a form of time travel, then this trope applies.
  • Call-Back: In the third loop, the intercom tells Lola's father that Meyer has arrived at the bank, and he cuts his mistress off before she can tell him the child she is pregnant with is not his, as she told him in the second loop.
  • 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 earn 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, the ambulance, several cars, and a shop front Lola runs past early on in the loops. Examples of yellow include the phone booth, the tram, and the supermarket.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The homeless man just happens to ride the bike past Manni at the phone booth.
    • Also, Lola nearly gets hit by a lorry, which happens right outside the casino in the third loop.
  • Cultural Translation: The English dub replaces the Deutschmarks with dollars.
  • Death by Ambulance: By the same ambulance that destroys the Sheet of Glass, running over Manni.
  • 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.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The flashbacks at the start of the film involving Lola and Manni are shown in black and white.
  • Deus ex Machina: In the third loop, Lola misses her chance to talk to her father as Meyer is able to pick him up this time, so she just keeps running. After not paying attention she nearly gets hit by a truck, which just so happens to be outside a casino.
  • Disappeared Dad: As Lola's supposed father reveals in the first loop, Lola's biological father apparently died or left before she was born.
  • Dramatic Irony: Lola runs past the bum that robbed the money not long after she leaves the house in the first two loops not knowing who he is.
  • Dramatic Shattering: Whenever Lola screams, this happens. It happens once before she starts running, then again in the bank during the first loop, and a final time during the second spin of the roulette wheel in the third loop.
  • The End: During the ending credits the word "Ende" scrolls by.
  • Establishing Series Moment: Lola's death is the moment where you realize this isn't an ordinary crime thriller.
  • 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 loop, a cartoon image of the croupier from the casino in the third loop appears briefly. Right afterwards 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. You can even hear the sound of a roulette ball landing in a pocket when she finally decides on her father.
    • Before Lola starts running in the first loop, 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 loop of the film when Lola robs the bank, you can see the security guard having chest pains. In the third loop, Lola hitches a ride in the ambulance and finds the same security guard having suffered a heart attack.
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • If Lola's moped hadn't been stolen, none of the events of the film would have happened.
    • The differences in the three timelines are caused by how she deals with a punk and his dog on her way down her apartment building's stairs, which causes a ripple effect that sends her in a completely different direction in each timeline. In the first sequence of events, Lola is forced to move around the two. The second sequence sees her fall down the stairs and injure her leg, which slows her down until the pain subsides and thus a little late than the previous loop. And the final sequence sees her just jump over the dog, which makes her earlier than the first loop.
    • 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.
  • Golden Ending: A very rare non-videogame, non-interactive-media example: by refusing to give up trying, Lola is finally able to get an ideal ending for Manni and herself.
  • "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. Even Lola's dad's mistress cheated on him.
  • I Am Not Your Father: Lola's Papa reveals to her that he is not her father when she asks him for money in the first loop.
  • It's All About Me: Implied to be the case with Lola's mother. When Lola runs out at the start of the loops, without getting up from her seat in the living room, she asks Lola if she's going shopping, and without waiting for an answer, asks Lola to get her some shampoo, before getting right back to her conversation on the phone, not in the least bit concerned that Lola just ran out in a real hurry and that something may be wrong.
  • Jerkass: Lola's father. In the first loop, he refuses to give Lola the money she needs to save Manni's life (rather worryingly seemingly not knowing who Manni is despite Lola having been his girlfriend for over a year), instead telling her to go home and go to bed, reveals rather coldly that he's leaving Lola and her mother to be with his mistress, and that he's not really Lola's father before ordering the security guard to throw her out. Just before The Reveal, Lola even calls him a jerk. In the second loop, he tells Lola to get a job when she needs the money to save Manni, and smacks Lola in the face for insulting his mistress.
  • Just in Time: In the second loop, Lola arrives at the intersection literally three seconds earlier than in the first loop, which is just early enough for Manni to hear her and not go rob the supermarket. Unfortunately, he's then hit by the ambulance.
  • 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 almost 130,000 marks of extra pocket money!).
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The "good" ending is the only one in which Lola doesn't try armed robbery. In the same loop, 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.
  • Look Both Ways: This happens to Manni in the second loop and to Lola in the third. Manni gets run over by the ambulance, and Lola almost gets hit by a lorry outside the casino.
  • Love Transcends Spacetime: See "The Power of Love," below.
  • Magic Countdown:
    • None of the 20-minute runs actually last 20 minutes in film time (counting from when Lola starts running from her room to the moment the clock strikes noon). The first run takes almost exactly 15 minutes, and the second a little more than 16. The last run takes about 18 and a half.
    • In the first run, when Lola asks the old lady for the time, it's 11:57. A minute later, Manni looks up at the wall clock and it's also 11:57.
    • When Lola arrives at the bank during the second run, the clock reads 11:52. Eight minutes later, she's still at the bank, taking the money from the teller.
  • 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 screaming can shatter glass.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Lola's thinks he's having a baby with his mistress, but the second loop reveals the baby is not his.
  • 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.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Manni in the intro flashback when he realises he left the money bag on the train, which gets worse when he is unable to get back on the train before it departs.
    • Lola gets one after robbing the bank in the second loop, as when she bursts outside, armed police have surrounded the building. Fortunately for her, the police don't realise she is the culprit and she is able to get out of there.
    • Manni again in the second loop just before the ambulance hits him.
  • 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 dead yet.
  • Only One Name: Lola, Manni, Ronnie, Meyer... pretty much every named character, really.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: In the second loop, Lola grabs the security guard's gun at the bank and points it at her father. She doesn't want to shoot him, she wants to use him to rob the bank to get the money she needs to help Manni.
  • Peggy Sue: Has elements of this; the first time Lola runs through the day, she can't use a gun and doesn't know where the safety catch is. The second time, she flicks it off with practiced precision. Oddly for this sort of plot, it may extend to other characters. The security guard at the bank seems aware of the loop by the third iteration. Which possibly makes sense if you consider the theory that he is the biological father of Lola, who is described as a "cuckoo's egg" (i.e., either adopted or the result of infidelity) earlier in the movie.
  • Pet the Dog: In the third loop, Manni gets his money back from the homeless man, but then the man asks, "What about me?" Feeling sorry for him, Manni gives him his gun.
  • Police Are Useless: In the first loop, a police officer accidentally shoots Lola. In the second, the police don't bother her because they don't take her for a criminal.
  • Real Time: The film is presented as such, though it's not exact. Lola has a 20-minute time-limit in each segment, and each segment is around 20 minutes.
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The American independent film And Then Came Lola is Run Lola Run with lesbians!
  • 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.
  • Rule of Three: The film's three loops. The first time, they get the money by robbing the supermarket, but Lola is shot in the chest. The second time, she gets the money by robbing her father's bank, but Manni is run down by the ambulance. The third time, she wins big at a casino and Manni recovers the money he lost at the start of the film.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Lola's father reveals in the first loop that he intends to abandon Lola and her mother to be with his mistress, fed up with her mother constantly belittling him and his efforts for the family.
  • Sexless Marriage: Lola's "parents." To get around it, Lola's father has a mistress, but in the second loop, said mistress is revealed to have cheated on him.
  • Sheet of Glass: In the second loop, 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.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The second loop's ending. Lola managed to get the money so Manni's boss won't kill him, and she reaches him in time to stop him from robbing the supermarket, but then Manni gets run over by an ambulance as she reaches him.
  • 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.
    • Lola's ability to shatter glass by screaming is almost certainly a Shout-Out to The Tin Drum.
  • Split Screen: Used throughout the film. Happens twice when Lola is on her way to Manni in both the first and second loops, and the screen is split into three to show Manni, Lola, and the clock about to hit twelve.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: When Manni and Lola talk on the phone.
  • Split Timelines Plot: The film runs through three timelines in order, with each succeeding one predicated on a specific event turning out differently than the one before it.
  • The Unfair Sex: Although both of Lola's parents are cheating on one another, her mother is portrayed innocuously and gets through the entire film free of any hurt or harm, but her father is portrayed as a selfish and callous asshole, tricked about the parentage of his mistress's child, robbed by his own daughter at gunpoint, and severely injured in a traffic accident, in that order.
  • Wealthy Ever After: In the final loop, Lola wins 129,600 Marks, the approximate equivalent of 66,000 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.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Manni has to meet Ronnie at twelve o'clock to get the money to him, and thus, Lola has to get the money by then, or else Ronnie will kill Manni for failing him.
  • You Have Failed Me: Averted. Manni is understandably terrified that Ronnie will kill him thanks to this trope for losing the money by accident, but fortunately in the third loop he retrieves it and gets the money to Ronnie in time.

Alternative Title(s): Lola Rennt