VOD film review: Run (2020)
James R | On 25, Jan 2021
Director: Scott Graham
Cast: Mark Stanley, Anders Hayward, Marli Siu, Amy Manson
Watch Run (2020) online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Virgin Movies / Sky Store / Google Play
“Oh, baby this town rips the bones from your back. It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap. We gotta get out while we’re young.”
The songs of Bruce Springsteen have long echoed through the halls of cinema, from Philadelphia and Jerry McGuire to The Wrestler and Blinded by the Light. Run, the latest from Scott Graham, plays out closer to the latter, as it takes us into a small-town existence where the lyrics of The Boss strike a chord in the everyday dreams of its characters. Where Gurinder Chadha’s upbeat coming-of-ager found escape, expression and hope in its feel-good soundtrack, though, Graham’s Run takes us down another road; The Boss may be burned into the fabric of its characters, who sport Springsteen-inspired tattoos, but they are born to stay in their dead-end fishing port rather than run away from it all.
Scott Graham’s similarly melancholic debut, Shell, established the Scottish filmmaker as a master of mood; he introduces us to his hometown of Fraserburgh with a hangdog air, where the smell of fish factories is almost tangible and hothead tempers are the inevitable end result of boy racers with wheels spinning on empty. Mark Stanley, who played Grenn in Game of Thrones, is broodingly intense as Finnie, a father and a husband (to an under-used Amy Manson as his patient wife) who’s in his mid-30s but hasn’t really left behind his teenage self. His son, Kid (Anders Hayward), reminds him of himself – and not just because he regularly has aggressive outbursts or races cars through the streets. It’s also because he has a pregnant girlfriend, Kelly (Marli Siu).
To say that not much happens in Run is an understatement, but that’s precisely the point: skidding backwards off the starting grid, it centres on one key night, when Finnie takes Kid’s car and heads out for an evening of rediscovered thrills – only for Kelly to jump into the passenger seat. Where a lesser film might twist this into a love triangle or something explosive, Graham has the confidence to let things simmer as the engine rumbles through the prospect of them drifting off down the open road. They’re surrounded by neon lights and rain-slicked roads, but these are hollow signifiers of the cool, movie-like life that has eluded them both – like the Springsteen lyrics that appear at the beginning and the songs that pepper the excellent soundtrack, they’re just one remove away from this odd couple’s reality, where even the idea of wearing a new shirt can spark tensions.
Stanley is excellent as the pent-up manchild going through a silent midlife crisis (albeit with a convincing accent), while Siu (the breakout star of the brilliant Anna and the Apocalypse) captures the simultaneous vulnerability and weariness of a young woman who hopes for a bright future but can also see where things are already headed. Together, they make a surprisingly poignant and moving plutonic pair, recognising and perhaps even providing each other with what they’re missing – and when we do finally see one of them break out into a spring, we suspect that they won’t keep up that pace after the end credits have rolled. The result plays out like a counterpart to Wild Rose, a more uplifting tale in which its protagonist sings her own way to reconciling her dreams and responsibilities. In Graham’s working-class town of jukebox aspirations, people just end up driving round the same block all over again.
Run (2020) is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.