An upbeat, catchy soundtrack punctuates this original German action film. Lola (Franka Potente) has a bit of a conundrum: if she is not able to get 100,000 Deutschmarks to her boyfriend, Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu) within the next twenty minutes, he will commit a felony, thus destroying their future. Each time Lola fails in this mission, the day resets and she must begin her mission anew.
The film begins with a phone call from Manni to Lola. He informs her that he has lost 100,000 Deutschmarks. If he is not able to produce the money and return it to its rightful owner, he will be murdered. To avoid this outcome, he has decided that the only option is to rob a nearby store to get the money. Lola has only twenty minutes to stop him, which means that she needs to somehow get the money, and reach Manny's side before time runs out.
Each morning, small changes in the way that Lola's day plays out affect the eventual outcome. Any time she fails to reach Manni, or fails to procure the money, her day resets, taking her back to the initial telephone call. As Lola encounters different people on her journey, the film switches to a series of photographs, showing how that interaction affected the person's life. In this way, the film illustrates the butterfly effect, showing how even minor changes in a person's day can ripple and affect his entire life (or the lives of others). As the day renews, so, too, does the way that Lola's brief encounter with each minor character changes that person's life.
On the first attempt, Lola is too late. Manni is stopped by police after robbing the store, and Lola is inadvertently shot in the chest. On the second attempt, Lola robs a bank to get the money and stop Manni from robbing the store. As they run to meet, Manni is hit and killed by a passing vehicle. Finally, the third time, Lola gets it right and saves the day.