Tribeca 2019 – Review: RUN Takes Drag Racing Too Literally At Times

In the Scottish town of Fraserburgh, all the residents seem as if their getaway vehicle abandoned them. They have settled in as best they can, working at salons or fish factories, but it’s not enough. They’re always hoping that some day, a one-way ticket out of town will appear in the mail. For Finnie, he decides he’ll simply create his own ticket out and never look back. But with two kids and a wife, is it as simple as grabbing your teenage son’s car keys and driving into the sunset? Run highlights this internal battle and attempts to provide the answer.

Run fittingly opens with a quote from the Bruce Springsteen song, “Born To Run.” And there’s no better song to sum up the emotion that flows from Scott Graham’s film. Finnie understands the plight that Springsteen sings about, and the film picks up right at his breaking point. As Finnie is shown showering, he desperately rubs his body with soap. Sure, it’s partly to rid himself of the smell of fish from his job. But it seems as if he is trying to scrub away his outside life entirely, yet his efforts remain hollow.

He can’t even have some semblance of control within his own house. His oldest son, Kid, simply doesn’t care. Having been fired from his job with a pregnant girlfriend, Kid understandably has an attitude. Finnie’s younger son gets yelled at for “messing up” simply because he’s there to bear the brunt of the anger. Finnie’s wife does what she can to help him, but in Finnie’s mind, she would never understand his mindset. Even having “Born to Run” tattooed on her ankle, he views it as a constant reminder of exactly what they failed to do: Run.

With his own car broken, Finnie takes his son’s keys and returns to the world of drag racing. According to Graham, drag racing is very common in his hometown. Yet an interesting aspect to note is how often Finnie takes the same streets. He never seems to be going anywhere, but rather, just constantly moving; it’s the illusion of freedom that he yearns for. The times have changed drastically for Finnie, yet the experiences all remain the same. He still knows the roads better than the teenagers who now race on them. He also revisits his old racing spots that have long been forgotten, which make way for the turning point of the film.

Mark Stanley as Finnie and Marli Siu as Kelly in Scott Graham’s RUN.

As Finnie and Kid’s girlfriend ride around the town, Finnie returns to the strip him and his wife used to frequent. The “Breakwater” is a harbor that stretches on and on, with only the crashing ocean waves as company. Fed up with waiting for other people to race, Finnie decides to race nothing but time itself. Going faster than he has all night, Finnie zooms down the harbor and the tension is palpable. Expecting an accident at any moment is understandable, and when a massive wave slams into the windshield, its genuinely terrifying to watch. Yet, at the peak of this tension, comes a release for Finnie we have not yet seen. It’s an interesting juxtaposition to be aware of, and one that is emphasized by Mark Stanley’s reserved, yet impactful, performance.

However, as interesting as Finnie is, his character is also an unfortunate facet of the film. Quite frankly, Finnie is a massive jerk. Sure, it is somewhat understandable and the film serves as a realization of his past actions. But through simply watching the film, Finnie just treats his loved ones terribly, which doesn’t make for a great protagonist. So Run doesn’t have anyone to root for other than Kid’s girlfriend, but she does not have much to work with. The film also includes a watershed moment for Kid, but he never becomes fully fleshed out. So once the moment arrives, the viewer is left apathetic. The film is extremely short, so perhaps a longer runtime to flesh out some nuances would benefit it greatly.

In its current state, Run is an enjoyable film about escapism. Luckily, many will be able to relate to its themes in some way. Getting past the very thick Scottish dialect will be a bit of a pain, but the film is very minimalistic so it should not be too much of a problem. If life seems to have passed you by, in the blink of an eye, Run makes a point to show that there’s always still a chance to catch up to it. Sometimes, a simple release is all that is needed for the realization that “running away” can also occur while being stationary with loved ones.

Run will be celebrating its world premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, and is part of the International Narrative Competition.

By Alex Papaioannou

Born and raised in New York. I've always loved all things pop culture, but my true passion lies within film. And the only thing that I love more than watching movies is writing about them! Some close runner-ups are: food, the Yankees, and hip-hop.

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