Aside from a sneaky Monday off to make up for a weekend devoted to writing, it’s been a couple of thousand words a day week. The most I can do at the end of play is stagger downstairs, eat and slump in front of the small screen. If feeling particularly energetic, I read a few chapters of historical fiction before I switch off the light.
So, quite by chance, I stumbled across ‘Run’. Originally shown on Channel 4, written by Daniel Fajemisin-Duncan and Marlon Smith, ‘Run’ is a masterpiece of storytelling.
Set on the mean streets of South London where life is raw, tough and violent, it’s a compelling, interweaving tale of four personal stories connected by an unfortunate chain reaction of consequences.
Olivia Coleman (the antithesis of her vicar’s wife role in ‘Rev’) portrays struggling single mother and thief, Carol. She has two antisocial, but doted over teenage sons who, in a fit of malevolent rage, beat to death a Polish man. Carol’s path crosses with a young illegal Chinese immigrant, Ying, who, in the second tale, is shown to be at the mercy of a vicious gang-leader. To make enough money to pay the gang master, Ying sells dud DVD’s to Richard, an addict engaged in a desperate struggle to stay off heroin. Richard, a heartbreakingly sympathetic character, is the main protagonist in the third tale. His life crosses with a young Polish woman, Kasia, whose story dominates the fourth and last episode. Kasia, it turns out, is the girlfriend of the Pole killed in the first episode. In spite of the overall gloom, it’s not unrelentingly grim. There is a note of hope in the darkness, which is no mean feat. Yes, there are some extremely nasty pieces of work who you can’t help think would have been nasty whatever walk of life they found themselves in, but there are also those with strong work ethics, those seeking to do the right thing even when they are tempted to be bad. Flawed and unlucky, these are characters with whom we can identify, and characterisation does not get much better than this.
Camera work, which is documentary in style, creates the illusion of the viewer tumbling through a dystopian Alice in Wonderland mirror into a hellish world of hand to mouth existence, if you’re lucky, random cruelty and exploitation, if you’re not. Only a breath away, it’s a deeply knowable world, and speaks of what we really know to be true about life for those most on the margins.
There is nothing preachy about ‘Run’, no bleeding hearts. It doesn’t seek to send out a message. A story about the dispossessed, those who have fallen through the cracks in the pavement simply because they didn’t luck out in the Lottery of life, one can’t help think that it should be required viewing for politicians and lawmakers, alike.