Review: Run (2013)

Channel 4’s excellent four-part drama Run, starring Olivia Colman, is a bleakly realistic look at people living on the fringes of society

Run, a four-part drama from Channel 4, is a story of four inter-linking characters living in a deprived area of South London. Run is about people on the fringes of society. The kind of people the majority of the population don’t give a second thought to – or try to avoid. They are downtrodden and hopeless, struggling with a bleak existence where their fate balances precariously on the edge of desolation.

Each story is connected in a cycle of overlapping events and missed opportunities. The structure is incredibly tight, and the links between episodes are clever without falling into the depths of gimmick – but the story is the king. It is intense, heart-breaking, raw and at times a little difficult to watch. Run is a kind of anti-Downton Abbey, it feels shockingly all too real.

The star of the show, undoubtedly, is Olivia Colman, who continues her run from comedy into dark drama as a single mother broken by her futile struggle to keep her sons out of trouble. Her performance is faultless and shows how worthy of her BAFTA win she really is. Katie Leung (Harry Potter) is also excellent in a role that couldn’t be further away from the wizardry of Hogwarts – as an abused illegal immigrant and sickening slave to a Chinese gang who leave her with very few options for escape. Lennie James (Snatch) performs to his usual impeccable standard as a recovering drug addict trying, but failing, to make amends with his family.

Run is probably not one for the faint-hearted. It is unsubtle in its message and directors Charles Martin (Skins, Wallander) and Jonathan Pearson have hardly shied away from showing London at its bleakest, but amongst the doom and gloom are expertly formed characters, gripping narratives, and just enough light to keep you hooked.

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