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By midlandsmovies, Mar 28 2019 12:12PM



Midlands Review - Runaways


Directed by Louis Brough


2019


“The world’s leading cause of homelessness for women is domestic violence”.


This statement opens a new film from Midlands director Louis Brough who has just released a new short drama which tackles a number of serious and weighty themes.


Our central character is Lenora (played by Ciara Lyons) who we are introduced to on a train. But far from the comfort of an opulent carriage, she appears to be a stowaway in an old baggage cart. Scared and dishevelled she is approached by a suited man before we cut away to another man now holding her mouth shut set in the same location.


A strange edit, an audience may not be sure if this is the same time or place as the character is situated in the identical set and the lighting barely changes.


However, as we discover numbers on this new man’s overalls it is revealed that he is an escaped criminal hiding from the authorities. Although his attempt to silence the woman was to prevent her screams, he apologises for his actions by trading an apple for Lenora’s name which is hungrily devoured by the cowering woman.


Runaways has its leads playing their roles with American accents and gives admirable effort to move the Midlands across the Atlantic. Like the director’s last film (Aurora) which took a fairy tale flight of fancy to a faraway land, local directors are expanding their repertoire with a broad set of influences. And similar to Enemies (filmed in Derby but set during the American Civil War), it’s great to see the varied (Hollywood) influences filmmakers in the area have injected into their projects.


Back to the story we are informed by the con that he is travelling to see his daughter who he hasn’t seen in 11 years and is also understanding of Lenora’s plight. The con is played by the appropriately named Richard Comfort of all things. We are then told Lenora is on the run from her terrible husband and is dealing with the loss of her baby caused by his violent actions.


A few more varied camera angles would have helped maintain a more dynamic visual tone and the lighting, which captures the dark seedy nature of their hiding place, is sometimes a little too under-lit. That said, some well-edited and mixed sound effects help sell a convincing train location – and far better than a recent wide-release movie I watched in all honesty.


As we journey along the tracks of her story the film ends with a glimmer of hope and some beautiful singing. A well-performed double-act, the two leads give believable turns as lost souls leaving terribly afflicted lives behind. For me though, as honourable as the opening and closing statements on domestic violence were, they do seem a little at odds with the film’s historical style. Will people relate modern concerns with this traveller’s tale from the Deep South?


Well it didn’t quite link the metaphor as smooth as I thought it could, but you shouldn't worry about that insignificant structural set-up, asit won’t stop audiences from enjoying Runaways' high points as it respectfully shows how testimony from the past is still very much relevant today.


Michael Sales

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