Marian Mathias' debut film, Runner, is a poignant gem of cinematic storytelling. Set against the backdrop of the American Midwest, this understated yet evocative drama delicately weaves together the lives of two souls navigating the desolation of their circumstances. Haas (Hannah Schiller), an 18-year-old confronted with the death of her father and a heavy burden of debt, embarks on a journey to fulfill his last wish - a burial in his hometown. It's there, in the arid landscape of a small Illinois town, that she meets Will (Darren Houle), a fellow wanderer seeking his place in a world that seems indifferent to him.
At the heart of Runner is the quiet interplay between the characters, like brushstrokes on a canvas. Mathias creates a narrative that defies time, capturing an ethereal atmosphere reminiscent of the works of Andrew Wyeth. The film's deliberate pacing allows moments of contemplation and connection to unfold organically, leaving the audience free to immerse themselves in the characters' world. Schiller's interpretation of Haas carries the emotional weight with remarkable subtlety, while Houle's debut performance exudes a tender vulnerability that resonates.
Jomo Fray's cinematography depicts a melancholy landscape where the characters are both engulfed and isolated in the immensity of their surroundings. This visual poetry fuses with a soundscape that accentuates every nuanced emotion - from the rustling of leaves to the beating of a fragile heart.
Marian Mathias' storytelling technique leaves the audience in a state of contemplation. Themes of connection, solitude and personal agency are deftly woven throughout the work, leaving us to ponder the intersections of sorrow and joy that shape our lives. The enigmatic bond between Haas and Will testifies to the director's ability to convey profound emotions through silence, echoing the push and pull of human existence.
In a cinematic landscape often dominated by grand narratives, Runner bears witness to the power of subtlety. Marian Mathias' debut film is a graceful exploration of the human experience, tenderly capturing the fragility of connections amid life's vast tapestry. As the film unfolds, we realize that in the quiet moments lurks a profound universe waiting to be discovered. With Runner, Marian Mathias reveals herself to be a filmmaker unafraid to traverse emotional landscapes, inviting audiences to embark on an introspective journey.
Written and directed by Marian Mathias
Produced by Joy Jorgensen, Omar El Kadi, Nadia Turincev
Starring Hannah Schiller, Darren Houle, Gene Jones, Jonathan Eisley
Cinematography : Jomo Fray
Production companies : Heretic Films
Distributed by Heretic films
Release date : NC
Running time : 76 minutes
Seen on September 7 2023 at the Deauville international center