Color, 1998, 81 mins.

Directed by Tom Tykwer

Starring Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri / Produced by Stefan Arndt / Music by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, and Reinhold Heil / Cinematography by Frank Griebe

Format: DVD - Columbia (MSRP $27.95)

Letterboxed (1.85:1) (16x9 enhanced) / Dolby Digital 5.1

Not many films can make time itself the central antagonist of a story, but the breakout German film Run Lola Run (Lola Rennt) executes this tricky idea along with a barrage of creative cinematic devices bound to leave viewers' heads spinning. A rare foreign film capable of crossing over to virtually any other culture, the film has understandably managed to strike a global chord and makes for a high velocity, entertaining sensory experience, too

The storyline of Run Lola Run boils down very simply. Lola (Franka Potente), a crimson-haired young woman, receives a phone call from her boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu). In twenty minutes, he must provide one hundred thousand deutschmarks to drug dealers for whom he had agreed to run an errand. Unfortunately, he lost the money and now finds his life in danger. In this short time span, Lola must run across town, formulate a plan to save Manni, and avert countless obstacles along the way.

How this concept manages to comprise an 80 minute film is one of the many unexpected surprises bursting forth from director Tykwer's whirling dervish of an imagination. Though Lola could be considered more a work of flash and style than substance, it easily bests most other time/space manipulating films (such as Sliding Doors) and offers some interesting shadings which reward repeated viewings. (How much information does Lola actually gain throughout the film? Which characters are actually aware of what is happening?) The propulsive music score (co-composed by Tykwer and featuring vocals by the talented Potente) drives the film as much as Lola's sprinting feet, and even the most tangential supporting characters are fleshed out with a few deft, perfectly rendered brushstrokes. On the most basic level, the film's greatest accomplishment is featuring a film in which the main character literally runs for almost the entire story, but the ultimate effect is invigorating rather than exhausting. The flashy music video stylistics never overwhelm the story but serve to advance the ideas which could arise in a universe which can actually be controlled by the human will. Simply put, it's an apt and somehow positive affirmation of life heading into a new century.

Not surprisingly, Columbia's DVD excels in all departments. The eye-popping colors of the film come through with vibrant clarity, and the option of playing either subtitled or dubbed versions of the film (in Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0) should increase the film's potentially broad appeal even more. The enveloping soundtrack works in any of the versions, with the relentless score constantly flooding from the speakers and enhancing the numerous panning sound effects. Extras include an affectionate, lively English commentary track by the director and star, filled with amusing little anecdotes about the production and the difficulty of maintaining the continuity and pace throughout the preproduction and editing process. Also included are the theatrical trailer and a surprisingly bland, uncredited music video. One of the year's most essential discs, this is highly recommended without reservations.

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