Quick Reviews: 'Run', 'I'm Your Woman' | Thriller With Sarah Paulson, Rachel Brosnahan, Crime Drama
A little bit of transparency here in the beginning because after learning that Run was conceived by minds behind 2018’s stellar ’Searching’, director-writer Aneesh Chaganty and co-writer Sev Ohanian, there were some expectations before hitting play. Those expectations weren’t in the vein of cinematic masterpiece or anything like that but in the sense that you should be expecting a clever thriller with possible twists and turns. With ’Searching’, Chaganty was perhaps trying to be too clever with its ending where the plot twists got a bit pointless, fortunately with his second feature length he has built it to sustain a more subtle twist. The outcome is indeed a clever thriller which takes some shortcuts but a lot of those can be forgiven since it hits its marks while introducing a talented young actor in Kiera Allen.
Allen plays a 17-year-old Chloe who uses a wheelchair being paralytic from waist down and is on several medications for her illnesses. Chloe is being taken care of by her mother Diane (Sarah Paulson) and is expecting an acceptance letter from University of Washington as she begins to worry about receiving said letter as well as suspecting that Diane might not be medicating her correctly. Like Chloe the character, Allen is also a wheelchair user and it’s noteworthy how that authenticity is put to a good use in Run. The small scale action scenes are quite something because of her acting. A sequence where Chloe needs to get to the roof and one where she wheels to a pharmacy as the camera tracks her are incredibly tense and effective. And not only that but she also manages to keep up with an experienced actor in Paulson when it comes to dramatic acting, it is one of the better feature debuts of the year.
For Chaganty, tables are turning as his sense of direction is more refined than the writing this time around; getting a first time actor and a seasoned one both to sell their roles, twists are less exposition-driven and the visual style is a big upgrade. The biggest thing might be breaking the pattern every now and then, like when Chloe is truthful to her mom when thrillers usually keep some secrets—it also helps that Run trusts Chloe to be smart when she needs to figure something out.
Sure, the story seems a bit simple at the end with conveniently kept papers in the basement, crappy internet and a mailman who ends up missing, also what happened to Diane during the final confrontation was slightly cartoon-ish. Luckily though most of the film works as Will Merrick’s editing compliments Chaganty, Allen and Paulson’s work during the most tense scenes (pharmacy, the phone call), perfectly getting us the viewers in and out of them.
Smileys: Kiera Allen, directing, editing
Frowneys: Minor issues with story
In another review I mentioned wanting more snowmobile action but I’d also gladly take more tracking shots of wheelchair cruising.
I'M YOUR WOMAN
You know, it’s no wonder really that you’re starting to get more films and shows from different perspectives of something we’ve all become so accustomed to, this is also true for mob/mafia/crime genre as well. A year before, an adaptation of ’The Kitchen’ tried this very thing on studio budget level, keyword being ’’tried’’ because later released I’m Your Woman really accomplishes much of what it’s going for instead of just faking the vibe on a soundstage. Written by the director Julia Hart and Jordan Horowitz, we begin to follow a housewife called Jean (Rachel Brosnahan) who needs to go hiding with her baby and Cal (Arinzé Kene), sort of a bodyguard, as Jean’s husband Eddie has seemingly pissed off some big mob bosses. Some of ’’Woman’s’’ aspirations look to be larger than the money behind it but it nevertheless manages to create a compelling journey in the world of crime.
As we certainly are familiar with seeing the man of the family go through business meetings, shoot-outs and swindle their way up the crime ladder, the strong premise of seeing what happens to the wife and their kid when the brown stuff hits the fan works for this film’s favour. You might even think about ’The Godfather’ where the wife literally gets the door closed in front of her. That said, I’m Your Woman isn’t strictly a remake of those classic films, it just wisely uses some of the visuals which are apparent notably when there is shooting or cars involved. Otherwise the premise gets us to safe houses (one sequence involving a neighbour lady and Jean is so tense) and sketchy backrooms, plus we are always centred on Brosnahan and Kene who are the heart of the movie and do a solid job acting.
Technically the film also looks and sounds great; something to highlight are Natalie O’Brien’s costume design which plays on Jean’s self-proclaimed social status at any given time and also Aska Matsumiya’s score which is one of the things that don’t reference the 70s but instead is driven by swirling pianos and industrial influenced beats. These are some important factors to get shining through because some bigger stuff we end up seeing seems to be a victim of the budget. Production design is quite understated considering how much fake money is at stake in the movie, likely also being the reason for using more close-ups and midsized compositions.
Some action scenes like the car chase towards the end also just look empty and very safe, as if the producers really cut corners on rentals and actors. Good thing is that most of the smaller stuff works well, even if the film could’ve used a star performance or a change of pace to push it further.
Smileys: Premise, costume design, score
Frowneys: Production design, story
You can probably skip arm days at the gym if you carry a baby around for a whole movie.