« Elders | Main | Book Review »

Running Scared

Regular readers of this site will be forgiven for gasping when they find out that I went to see Running Scared of my own free will. It is totally not my kind of movie. But I've seen everything else in the neighborhood (except for Something New, which is showing only in the evening, alternating with Curious George - which I have plans to see). And I wanted to calibrate my differences from Times reviewer Manohla Dargis. She writes good reviews, but I find that I disagree with her. I have, for example, enormous respect for the traditional American narrative. I thought I'd see if Paul Walker's acting were as bad as Ms Dargis suggested.

Running Scared is an exercise of blood and bluster executed with cheeky expertise. The editing is as tight as coherence permits. The story, which centers on a gun that a boy uses to shoot his abusive stepfather, unfolds in more ways than one as the body count soars. Mr Walker, playing Joey Gazelle, a nice-guy gangster, is on the move more or less throughout the picture. His embodiment of jittery American masculinity makes an interesting contrast to Romain Duris's French counterpart in De battre mon coeur s'est arrêté: where M Duris seems about to explode with barely contained tension, Mr Walker is in a state of perpetual outburst. This makes his Joey more irritating than interesting, at least to me, but I have to say that he was utterly convincing. Whether another actor might have made more of the role I really can't say. It is true, as Ms Dargis points out, that Vera Farmiga (Teresa Gazelle) and Cameron Bright (Oleg Yugorsky) make more personable impressions.

As it happens, Teresa and Oleg are principals in the horrifying episode that makes Running Scared, in the end, a remarkable, must-see movie. A pool of deadly tranquility in the film's onrush, this momentary diversion from the main narrative involves a jolly children's playroom with heavy-duty camera equipment and a floor that's covered in plastic sheeting. Nothing much actually happens during this terrifying sequence, but by leaving everything to the viewer's imagination, writer-director Wayne Kramer makes an utterly riveting bit of film. Nothing that I've seen in Quentin Tarrantino comes close to the spleen in Running Scared.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

I am a kottke.org micropatron

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2