After I watched Deadly Sorority, I watched the second Lifetime premiere of the night, Running Away!
Why Was I Watching It?
I nearly missed Running Away, which would have been a shame. After being disappointed with Deadly Sorority, I was seriously tempted to go down to my neighbor’s 3-day Cinco de Mayo party. But, somehow, my cinematic instincts knew that I should take the time to watch Running Away. I’m glad that I did because Running Away is one of the best Lifetime films of the years so far.
What Was it About?
Peg (Paula Tricky) is a single mother, struggling to raise two rebellious daughters even as the bank attempts to take her home away from her. However, salvation comes in the form of Richard (William McNamara). Richard is never quite clear about what he does for a living but he’s rich. He has a great (and big) house. He drives a red sports car and has no problem about honking the horn at people crossing the street and shouting, “Yeah, you better be watching!” He’s more than a little creepy but he appears to worship the ground that Peg walks on. Add to that, when he asks her to marry him, he gives her a really nice ring.
After the wedding, Peg’s two daughters have differing reactions to Richard. The youngest, Lizzie (Madison Lee Brown), loves their new home and decides that Richard isn’t as bad or as creepy as he originally seemed. Maggie (Holly Deveaux) knows that Richard is a creepy perv, the type who walks in on her when she’s in the shower and who, when he discovers that she’s been drinking beer, uses the knowledge for sexual blackmail. Being molested and abused by her stepfather, Maggie resorts first to self-harm and then to running away.
Maggie finds herself living with a drug dealer and his traumatized girlfriend. Both Richard and Peg are searching for her but both have different plans for what to do when they find her.
I know that the plot probably sounds extremely melodramatic and, in a way, I guess it was. But, that’s okay. This is a film that used melodrama to make a very real and important point about the consequences of abuse. This a very well-done and very heartfelt film.
It took me a while to recognize William McNamara, who gives an all-too realistic performance as the monstrous Richard. When we first meet Richard, the film wisely plays up his dorkiness. We know he’s a bad guy but we’re still shocked by just how bad and dangerous he ultimately turns out to be. Paula Trickey also does a good as Peg, portraying her with a combination of regret, disillusionment, and, as the same time, a cautious hope for the future. However, the film really belongs to Holly Deveaux, who gives an empathetic and compelling performance of Maggie, one that reveals both her pain and her inner strength.
What Did Not Work?
I have to admit that, towards the end of the film, I kind of rolled my eyes when one final secret about Richard was revealed. At that point, he was already such a bad guy that revealing the reason why he was so rich felt like overkill. Other than that, though, I would say that the entire films worked.
“Oh my God! Just like me!” Moments
As someone who was an angry, rebellious, and often self-destructive teenager, I related to Maggie. Holly Deveaux’s performance captured all of the emotions. Though the whole movie, I was cringing as I had flashbacks to all the times that I was tempted to get on a bus and go wherever it took me.
(Seriously, for about a year and a half, I had this ludicrously romanticized fantasy about getting on a bus, traveling to random towns, and spending a year filling up my notebooks with my thoughts on America. After I talked about it one too many times, my sister Megan drove me down to the Greyhound station in downtown Dallas and we spent an hour watching people get on and off buses. The sights and the smells — well, mostly the smells — of actual bus living pretty much ended that fantasy.)
You can’t run away from your problems but you can beat them over the head with a baseball bat.