Review by Sean Boelman
From executive producers Vicky Jones and Phoebe Waller-Bridge comes Run, a new romantic comedy-thriller series unlike anything that audiences have ever seen. Thanks to its unique tone and ambitious structure, the series is able to cement itself as one of the most refreshing offerings the small screen has had to offer in quite a while.
The film follows two ex-lovers that activate a long-dormant plan to escape their unsatisfying domestic lives and run away together. Although this may seem like a conventional premise, it is but a set-up for the deeper storyline that becomes more and more complex with each episode’s developments.
The main thing that drives this film along is the romantic tension between the characters. The series (at least through the first five episodes) is ambiguous about how the audience is supposed to feel about this relationship because of strong character development. Every time one starts to warm to the idea of these characters being together, a new twist will cause them to question it.
Domhnall Gleeson and Merritt Wever do a phenomenal job in their lead roles. The chemistry that they have together is entirely believable from the first episode, allowing the viewer to buy into the show even when it becomes a bit less grounded. Wever, in particular, is at her career-best, with a nuanced and emotional turn.
Jones infuses a lot of humor into the series through simple but witty dialogue. As the show goes on and the viewer gets more acclimated to the world, there is more situational humor, and sometimes even slapstick humor, but the first two episodes in particular benefit from being dominated by sharply-paced conversations.
What makes this series so compelling is that it has strong thriller undertones in addition to its romantic comedy elements. The intensity and atmosphere established in the opening scene shows that there is something the storyline is building to, and once that thing is revealed, the series goes from intriguing to absolutely breathtaking.
On a technical level, the show is very sleek and stylish. A significant portion of the series takes place on a train, and as a result, there is a feeling of constant energy and movement in the visuals. Unlike most series set in a confined location such as this, the cinematography isn’t meant to create claustrophobia, but rather, a sense of urgency to what is proceeding.
Vicky Jones’s show Run is the type of daring and ambitious television that one wouldn’t expect from a half-hour series. With a wicked sense of humor and an engrossing storyline at its core, this seems primed to be HBO’s next sleeper hit.
Run debuts on HBO on April 12 at 10:30 ET/PT with subsequent episodes airing on Sundays at the same time. Five out of eight episodes reviewed.