Television review: “Run” starring Katie Leung
Film directed by Charles Martin (episodes 1-2) and Jonathan Pearson (episodes 3-4)
Written by Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan, Marlon Smith
Starring: Olivia Coleman, Katie Leung, Lennie James, Katharina Schuttler
Run is a four-part dramatic mini-series that aired in the UK this year and is now available for American audiences for free via Hulu. Focusing each episode on the life of one character, the four vignettes intertwine and connect, showing how one person’s decision can affect any random stranger. The timeline of the movie is a bit blurred, but it felt like it should be blurred, considering the different perspectives of the characters. Katie Leung (Cho Chang) is featured in the first two episodes of the mini-series.
The first episode focus is on Carol and her two sons, Dean and Terry, who have just beaten a man to death and try to hide it from their mother. While Carol suspects something is wrong, she goes about her life, including stealing from the company she works for so that she can make extra cash on the side by selling cell phones to an Asian girl she meets at a laundry mat. Carol eventually learns the truth about her sons and despite the anguish it causes her, turns them in to the police.
The second episode continues the story of Ying, the young girl from the laundry mat. Ying has been brought to the country illegally and is forced to sell items on the street in order to pay Gao, the man who made it possible. When an immigration raid takes place, Ying is forced to run and hides out with a man who owns a barber shop. Her past catches up with her when Gao finds the shop and beats up the owner to try to learn her whereabouts. To save herself, and the barbershop owner, Ying goes back to working for Gao.
Richard is a heroin addict who is trying to get his life back together so that he can see his daughter. After being falsely arrested, he loses his home and tries to sell a stolen car for cash to give to his daughter. The car is towed before he can make good on his promise to his child. In a last attempt to repair the relationship with his child, he steals items out of a car for cash and leaves it at her house with promises that one day he will be better and they can be together.
The final episode opens with the owner of the stolen car, Katerina, at the morgue, identifying the body of her boyfriend. As she prepares to bury him, she finds out he had an affair and a child was the result of the relationship. While her bills mount, she reaches out to her boyfriend’s shady business partner Peter and agrees to marry a man from India for ten thousand pounds. When she accidentally sees where her potential groom hides his cash, she goes back the next day and steals it. Peter finds out and chases her to get the money, but she narrowly escapes him by sneaking onto the subway, taking a seat next to Carol, who sons are the men responsible for Katerina’s boyfriend’s death.
The series is well-written, with all of the storylines weaving together to show cause and effect. The viewer’s preconceptions of the characters prior to their specific episodes are really turned on their heads as aspects of the characters troubles are brought to light during the series. The blurred timeline, which I mentioned before, serves its purpose for the stories – providing a real-time feel for each character while still keeping the pace for the audience. The audience is left wondering what happens to all the characters and if there is any resolution to the situations in which they find themselves, but I think that Carol appearing in the final scene tells us what happens to them: Life goes on after bad things happen, just like it does in real life. Until you’ve walked a mile in someone’s shoes, you have no idea the darkness or struggle they may be dealing with. While the series is not a feel-good movie by any means, it is an interesting and thought-provoking film.