Monday, April 22, 2024

Mother is Smothering

It's always exciting to discover a new genre filmmaker with a fresh voice and style. I adored Aneesh Chaganty's Searching, so when I finally realized the straight-to-Hulu 2020 thriller was also one of this (along with co-writer Sev Ohanian) it seemed like the right time to finally dive in (four years after the rest of the world, as is my style).

Quick Plot: Diane is more than ready to send daughter Chloe to college. Born with a bundle of health issues (diabetes, paralysis, asthma, arrhythmia, and a few more syllables explained in the opening credits), Chloe has grown into an incredibly capable young woman who manages her body in between homeschooling and the dozens of daily medication doses issued by her mom.

As Chloe anxiously awaits her college acceptance, she begins to notice certain aspects of her daily routine not adding up. Could her mother be tampering with her medication? Hiding university mail? Building an entire life on a lie?

Obviously, going too much further would spoil much of Run so I'll stop there, though it's not terribly difficult to guess its turns (including a late-breaking reveal that many will call early on). While not packed with narrative surprises, Run does have a few other key factors in its favor.

Sarah Paulson has a lot of fun crafting a homeschooling, organically-grown tomato-eating monster mom, but it's Kiera Allen who holds Run together. The script doesn't quite justify some of her obliviousness, but Allen does an incredible job of pulling us into her character's body and headspace. 

Chaganty has a very different job here than he did on Searching. Where that film wove a mystery out of pure story, Run is all action. Well, not necessarily the kind you probably associate with that word, but it's characters locking doors before others can get there and trying to ask for help while stifled with tubes down their throats. It's a different style, and Changanty does it well.

Run didn't fully grab me, mostly because the script just isn't nearly as clever as it probably needed to be to really click. But this is still an engrossing little film that made for a sufficiently satisfying watch.

High Points
It's an obvious Hitchcock/Bernard Herrmann homage, but it works: Torin Borrowdale's score uses angry strings to great effect

Low Points
The cast helps overcome a lot of this, but as a viewer, it's a bit hard to get past some of the details. How exactly DOES Chloe, a very bright if sheltered person, go 18 years without actually seeing a regular doctor or having a conversation without someone that isn't her mother or mailman?

High Points
Pacific Northwesterners are incredibly patient when it comes to waiting in line

The way to a pharmacist's heart is a challenging scavenger hunt

A stranger is just a google search assistant you haven't met

Run doesn't quite add up to a great movie, but it achieves plenty of tension and stays entertaining all the way through. Worth a glance on Hulu.

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