Released: 1st January
Seen: 8th April
Do you know the worst part about living in Australia while trying to do film criticism (or whatever we’re going to call what I do on this blog that I run)? There are so many films that I will just never be able to see in a legal manner, not through any local streaming services anyway. We live in a global marketplace where I can have just about anything I want sent to me from anywhere in the world, but movies appear to be one of the exceptions to this rule.
This is often because a movie might be uploaded on a service that’s not available down here, such as Hulu which I can’t use at all and have to hope that the films on that service become big enough that they might release them down here, maybe. Hell even being a big release isn’t a guarantee, as my inability to see the latest Animaniacs will attest. What I’m getting at is that it feels like a miracle I was able to get to see the movie Run which finally made it to a streaming service I have access to… this system isn’t horribly flawed and encourages piracy, who said that?
Run is the simple story of a mother and daughter. The daughter, Chloe Sherman (Kiera Allen) has had a hard life with a variety of ailments that have caused her to be in a wheelchair and be fully dependent on her mother, Diane (Sarah Paulson). All is going as well as can be until Chloe notices that the little pills she’s been taking aren’t actually prescribed to her… and aren’t the pills that are described on the label. Soon Chloe starts to wonder if Diane is in some way responsible for her ailments and has to try and find a way to get out from under the thumb of mommy dearest.
Run is clearly lifting from two major sources, the first being the many stories of Munchausen By Proxy syndrome and particularly that of Gypsy Rose Blanchard (a young woman who was being poisoned by her mother… you know, right up until she had her mother murdered) and the second being Misery. You can almost see the exact moments when the writer took a major moment from Misery and just changed the names, and luckily for everyone involved it works really well. The script is tight and fast, bouncing from scene to scene with all the energy it can muster. Once this bad boy starts showing its hand, it doesn’t let go until the end.
It’s hard to deny that Run is a Misery clone but if anyone was going to try and take on the Kathy Bates role in a Misery clone, I can’t think of anyone better than Sarah Paulson who just kills it with this performance. Anyone who has seen Paulson’s work in American Horror Story knows she can completely command a scene with a look, but Run is almost just about getting Paulson to show off just how goddamn incredible she is as an actress. A little twinkle in her eye can tell you that she’s planning something horrible and she somehow manages to maintain a vulnerability even when just doing the vilest things. You almost want to feel bad for her… and then you remember “Oh right, she messed her daughter up SO much.”
Speaking of that daughter, all the praise in the world to Kiera Allen for just how committed she was to this role. Run is her first feature film and you can tell this is someone who is destined for stardom. The fact that she’s also a wheelchair user in real life makes so many of her scenes all the more harrowing. She doesn’t hold back for a second, she’s basically going toe to toe with a legend and you couldn’t tell that they were at completely different points in their careers. Kiera is a force to be reckoned with and if there isn’t just a line of casting directors outside her door right now with scripts in hand, there’s no justice in this world.
With this incredible pair of actresses, every single scene is a thrill ride. There are so many brilliant scenes that work purely because of the way those two bounce off each other that it shouldn’t be mathematically possible. From subtle moments like a quietly tense dinner to the heart-stopping scene where Chloe tries to find out what the pills are by calling a random stranger… every scene is just so well handled and intense. Even scenes that run the risk of going over the top (Chloe’s big escape near the end, just as an example) end up working because every one of the giant insane steps the film takes makes sense internally and the actors sell it.
Run is a brilliant little thriller that might be borrowing from the greats, but it puts enough of its own flair in to make it something special. If nothing else, the performances by the main cast are so good that it’s an absolute must-watch. A good fun thriller that I really wish I could’ve seen earlier, thanks Hulu for being useless on that front.