The Run

 

starstarstar

 


A work that invites us to share a runner's endeavours as he participates in a marathon in India.

 
The Run
 

The title of this documentary film could not be more to the point. It is entirely concerned with the occasion in 2016 when an Australian marathon runner, Pat Farmer, set out on his latest enterprise. His aim was to run from Kanyakumari in the far south of India all the way to Kashmir in the north. The plan was to cover 85 kilometres each day and the time taken was a little over sixty days. Even without the intense heat, that was a challenge and, in point of fact, even more was involved than the running. The undertaking, announced as the Spirit of India run, would also involve Farmer in over 700 subsidiary events. These stemmed from the nature of the enterprise which was to raise funds to aid girls' education in India. The sponsorship arrangements, charity commitments and government support meant that, when not literally on the road, Farmer would be expected to give talks at schools, attend official receptions, involve himself with the communities through which he passed and attract tourists.

 

In making this film, Anupam Sharma has done a competent job, but he has opted for a narrow focus. There is no wider portrait of Farmer himself. His second wife, Tania, joins him when he reaches Mumbai, but there is only the briefest passing reference to his daughter and no mention of his first wife (I discovered later that she died tragically in 1998 at the early age of 34). At the film's close, we see Farmer working as a labourer, but he was formerly a politician and is proudest of being known as an adventurer. He clearly supports good causes, but one is still left asking why a man in his mid-fifties should choose to challenge himself by participating in marathon runs which by their nature are severe endurance tests. The Run does show him interacting  with his crew including his niece Katie Walsh, Dr Joseph Grace and a young man named Kevin Nguyen, a journalist and photographer taken on to act as publicist. Indeed, the film is not afraid to show how demanding Farmer can be towards them and he is openly critical of the failure of the Australian media to make more of the event. But, just as the journey is depicted in a way that gives us glimpses of India and nothing more, understanding Farmer and what drives him is not on the agenda.

 

Undoubtedly, this concentration on the run itself is a deliberate choice, but the inevitable result is that Sharma's film relies entirely for its impact on the extent to which individual viewers take to the idea of spending 103 minutes alongside Pat Farmer. As my rating above indicates, my personal response is to find it reasonably interesting but a limited experience for all that. Anyone for whom the material strikes a much stronger chord can safely assume that The Run will not let them down. In that respect, by coincidence this film has such in common with another of this week's releases, The Big Meeting, although it is the latter that contains the finer filmmaking.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Featuring  Pat Farmer, Katie Walsh, Kevin Nguyen, Joseph Grace, Tania Farmer.

 

Dir Anupam Sharma, Pro Anupam Sharma, Screenplay Anupam Sharma, Ph Kush Badhwar, Ed Shweta Rai.

 

Films & Casting Temple Pvt. Ltd. Sydney-Jonny Tull.
103 mins. Australia/India. 2017. Rel: 6 September 2019. No Cert.