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Runaway (2005)

Reviewed By Laura Kyle
Posted 10/23/05 13:58:43

"A thorough, cautionary tale of a damaged young man."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

SCREENED AT THE 2005 AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL: A seemingly straight down the line character study of a young man running away from a painful family history, Runaway is a surprising, well-done drama about the tragic cycle of abuse. I’m just not sure if there’s enough here to warrant even just 80 minutes.

Aaron Stanford, in a breakout performance, is the troubled Michael, who kidnaps his 8-yr-old brother Dylan (Zack Savage) and tries to make a new life for himself, away from a destructive home environment. His new, protective boss Mo (Peter Gerety) encourages him to hook up with his seductive co-worker Carly (Robin Tunney) and even as he dodges the cops, Michael seems to be in good hands. He corresponds with his worried therapist who he abandoned back home, in letters – or voiceovers (for the viewer).

Tim McCann’s smooth direction and the reliable actors (especially Michael Gaston as the abusive father) make Runaway an easy recommendation, but only if you hang around until the last frame. Runaway is a brooding little affair, with a mellow score by Robert Miller and a ceaseless concentration on Michael’s psychological journey. It could almost be described as a Lifetime Original Movie with lots of artistic merit but without the charm and wit of say, Good Will Hunting, at least for a majority of its running time.

Michael’s past is exposed to the audience in flashbacks and also in his observance of the interactions between his little brother and father – Mr. Adler wants to take Dylan on a camping trip, but tells Michael he can’t come along.

There are a generous amount of haunting, well-crafted scenes like this; one of particular note is when Michael tries to repress an angry outrage toward his younger brother by morphing it into the “Monster Game.”

While Bill True’s screenplay is patient and careful, it almost threatens to lose its audience, despite moviegoer’s genuine concern for Michael. Thankfully, moviegoers are given a good shake in a revealing third act.

Runaway, while a bit redundant at times, is a resounding reminder of the reverberations of childhood abuse.

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