Emerging Writers Feature

Emerging Writers – On Tom Tykwer’s Run Lola Run

The Big Picture is committed to giving young, emerging writers a voice in the world of film criticism. In this feature, student writers from around the world share their insights on contemporary film and new releases.

By Katy Coakley

An ordinary, responsible, but quirky German girl suddenly becomes involved in her boyfriend’s felonious activities in Tom Tykwer’s experimental thriller Run Lola Run (1998). One to challenge his audience, Tykwer shows how time is both restarted and repeated. The film’s three repeated sequences feel like Groundhog Day (1993) on steroids.  

Lola (Franka Potente) loves her rebellious boyfriend Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) as she is willing to sacrifice herself to find 100,000 Deutschemarks to send to his criminal boss. Manni frequently calls his much-needed girlfriend from a phone booth, which symbolizes his struggle to escape his life’s problems. 

Lola does not like to be told “no.” She is smart, but she picks up a strange habit (and motif) that certainly annoys those around her. When her exhausted father (Herbert Knaup) questions Lola about the money she needs, she becomes so overly exhausted that she screams at the top of her lungs, which causes numerous glass objects to break. This metaphor shows her desire to break free from the rules and get what she wants. However, her attitude only makes things worse. 

© 1998 X-Filme Creative Pool

It’s clear that Lola and her father have a difficult relationship. While he is a successful banker, he does have his flaws, as he does not have enough time for his daughter. Lola becomes fed up with her father and holds him at gunpoint for some money. This interaction certainly does not fix their relationship, and Lola runs away from him.   

Run Lola Run incorporates red to represent the danger that the characters encounter, but Lola’s red hair shows her passion. In several flashbacks, Lola and Manni are lying in bed together under red lighting, which underlines the tense situations in their relationship. While Lola often proclaims her love to Manni, she questions his love for her. His simple reply of “yes” indicates to Lola that Manni does not commit enough to their relationship. 

Most of the characters face regrettable consequences. Sometimes, people can change for the good, but Run Lola Run shows how some people can change for terrible reasons. Lola starts out as likeable because she is living a normal life in an apartment with her mother. However, her life changes for the worse, and the film leaves us questioning what will happen next for Lola. 


Cinephile Katy Coakley is a student at Dominican University majoring in Digital Journalism with a minor in Film Studies. She enjoys analyzing the film genres of comedy, mystery, and war. Katy also has an interest in directing, and some of her favorite directors include Wes Anderson, James Cameron, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino.

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