Scottish nouveau dreich, downbeat Run, expanded from a short by director Scott Graham, still has a way to go.

Drive, She Said

by Alexa Dalby


CAUTION: Here be spoilers
Run takes place over 24 hours in a bleak, grey, small port town on the Aberdeenshire coast – the director, Scott Graham’s (Bafta-nominated Shell, Iona) home town of Fraserburgh. Central character Finnie (Mark Stanley, Game of Thrones) works in the local fish processing plant, which he clearly hates and he’s also angry at everything and everyone. He lives in a small cramped house with his family among streets of identical grey houses on a sprawling estate.

Both Finnie and his conciliatory hairdresser wife Katie (Amy Manson) have ‘Born to Run’ tattoos and Springsteen’s rebellious, rousing musical influence pervades the film – it opens with a quote from his ‘Born to Run’ – but there’s also a more contemporary playlist as the film continues.

After a loud, painful family argument, his own car frustratingly won’t start so he sneaks out to joy-ride in his son Kid’s (Anders Hayward) tuned-up old car to race around the deserted (apart from people fighting) nighttime streets. When he stops in the bowling alley car park, Kelly (Marli Siu, Anna and the Apocalypse), mistakenly gets in, thinking that it’s Kid calling for her.

Finnie and Kelly drive around together playing music in a night that changes their lives. The dark streets, black and greasy with rain and lit by glowing street lights, are beautifully shot. Finnie dangerously races another car and at the deserted harbour, he endangers them both by racing against the sea wall, where huge North Sea waves crash threateningly over its height, sounding like thunder crashes – probably the most effective scene in the film.

Run is a slight, one-note film, expanded by the director from an earlier short. It’s about the anguish of the death of teenage dreams, the urge to run from the boredom of small-town life and frustration at the impossibility of doing so, and Finnie’s the anger and depression of seeing his own mistakes being repeated.

Although the performances seem uniformly good, it relies on the clever cinematography of the driving sequences – though two people sitting in a car are surprisingly compelling. The film itself could do with more development, both of character and complexity. And would subtitles would be helpful outside Scotland because this review had to written with the hindsight of production notes.

Run screened at the BFI London Film Festival, screened at the Glasgow Film Festival on 1 March and is released on 13 March 2020 in the UK. It is available on DVD and download from 25 May 2020.

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