Scott Graham’s third feature follows a petrol-head who was born to run, but instead never left his small fishing village in Scotland
British road movies feel like anomalies in comparison to their American counterparts, possibly because there is simply less road down which to lose and/or find yourself. This limitation turns into a strength in Run, the third feature from Scottish director Scott Graham (Shell, Iona). Here, the struggle to escape and reclaim youth, opportunity, and the second chances those entail finds its subject in Finnie (Stanley), a former boy racer turned fish processor. He captures the frustrations of a life that seems to be going nowhere – he married his high school sweetheart Katie (Manson), stayed in his home town, and sees his teenage son, Kid (Anders Hayward), going down the same path of intermittent employment and a pregnant girlfriend, Kelly (Siu).
The film’s high hits in the second act, when Finnie and Kelly share a glorious night tearing through town in his son’s car. On a technical level, the cinematography and editing of this sequence is impressive, shifting focus from the screeching tires and deserted factories outside to the haltingly intimate conversation inside with confidence and clarity. Both Stanley and Siu capture a constant awareness of this escape’s fleetingness, the fantasy that keeps them going until the next day forces their next moves. When the film comes back to earth, the fallout from that night remains to be explored. The final act is slightly anticlimactic by comparison, but the astute and mature handling of personal growth – and its realistic limits – feels honest. Perhaps more importantly, it feels hopeful.
Underlined by overt and indirect homages to Springsteen’s universal odes to the working man, Run is extremely specific to its time and place while reaching beyond to dreams all can recognise. In a decade marked by strong Scottish cinema, its fine-grained characterisations and script make it a notable entry.
Run screens at Glasgow Film Festival, Sun 1 Mar, 8.45pm; Mon 2 Mar, 3.30pm, GFT
Released 13 Mar by Verve; certificate 15