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Run Lola Run

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Especially since the rise of MTV and the emergence of rapid-fire editing, films have sacrificed substance for the sake of style. Run Lola Run, a new film by German director Tom Tykwer, smartly bypasses the artistic quandary: Rather than weigh substance versus style, Run Lola Run jettisons the former entirely. Franka Potente, the titular Lola, gets a phone call from criminal-boss flunky and fatally inept boyfriend Moritz Bleibtreu saying that if he doesn't get 100,000 Deutschmarks in 20 minutes, he's all but dead. Slamming down the phone, she sets about frantically searching for some way to get him the money before he foolishly robs a grocery store in broad daylight. It's a simple premise, and Tykwer can't resist playing it for all it's worth. With a techno soundtrack pounding and the film careening from color to black-and-white and briefly—most strikingly—into animation, he portrays the chain of events three times in a row, with a different conclusion each time. All, however, involve the ruby-haired Potente running a great deal, flying down side streets, making life-or-death decisions, and avoiding obstacles like a character from some video game: She's even armed with a supersonic shriek that can bend wills and shatter glass. Run Lola Run may be all Eurotrash flash, but it's not often that a film packs this much visceral punch. Potente might be doing all the running, but by the end, it's the audience that's winded.