In the modern world, life in developed nations can be incredibly depressing and isolated. Very often, most of us walk through life feeling completely cut off from the many people who surround us, unable to understand or be understood. In this compelling and action-packed British miniseries, we get a much-needed reminder of just how connected we all are. Based around four central protagonists, Run dedicates an episode to each, allowing the audience to see their personal struggles, shortcomings, external obstacles, loses, and wins.
Run opens with Carol, a haggard, working single mother of two sons who, despite only being in their late teens, have managed to already be complete and utter failures as human beings. Carol is absolutely fed up with her sons, Dany and Terry, but loves them, and therefore continues her work, both legally and illegally, to provide for them alone, since her abusive ex is no help at all. Carol definitely gives us all sorts of UK “white trash” teas; she’s poor but also racist and xenophobic, which (along with their father’s unapologetic misogyny) is behaviour that her sons have internalized to the point of gross, senseless violence. Now, Carol must decide whether to stand by her wayward progeny, or admit that she has failed, that they are not good people, and allow them to be rightfully punished for their crimes.
Ying (Katie Leung), an “illegal” Chinese immigrant, sells unlicensed DVDs and stolen cell phones in order to repay the benefactor who financed her trip to the UK, soon finds herself in over her head when she consistently fails to make her daily quota and is then sexually exploited by her boss. This isn’t the way that Ying imaged her life, nor was this the “better life” she was sold before leaving the Fujian province of China. In following Ying’s journey, the audience gets a comprehensive education in the vulnerability of undocumented.
Richard (Lennie James) is a decades-long heroin addict who struggles daily, hourly, to remain clean. He’s lost his marriage and is dangerously close to completely losing his teenage daughter, Sabrina. After years of his failed promises, both she and his ex-wife are completely fed up with waiting on Richard to go straight. Though far less action-fueled than Run’s other vignettes, Richard’s story is overflowing with meaningful dialogue and a triumphant humanization of drug addicts. We see a weak person, a flawed person, not an inherently bad and amoral person.
Kasia (Katharina Schuttler) left Poland with her husband for reasons not ever completely divulged, but reason that are nonetheless presented as urgent. While she works legally in janitorial services, her husband Tomek (Levan Doran) and his partner are in the business of arranging fraudulent marriages between English citizens and immigrants seeking legal status in the country. When Tomek goes missing, Kasia learns more about her husband than she’d ever bargained for, as well as just how dangerous his business really is. Alone for the first time ever, Kasia is forced to muster a strength and resourcefulness she’s never had in order to live her life on her own terms.
As these people move past and crash into one another, affecting one another’s life in ways big and small, we see that, despite how alone they might feel in life, the movements of people they will never know ensure that they will never been truly alone, and their lives are only ever so much within their control. Run is beautiful, melancholy, and thought-provoking. The characters, all vastly different from one another, are deeply, relatably human. There pain and confusion is real. And in one form or another, the audience becomes fiercely emotionally-invested in them all. Our protagonists are more than just a single mom, an “illegal”, a junkie, or wife. They are real people making decisions that, even when the audiences disagrees with them, we can understand. Run is an extraordinary masterpiece about everyday people.
I give this one 5 stars.