When She Runs Review
Kirstin (Kirstin Anderson) seemed like she had a lot on her plate to suffer through – a brutal workout regime, an even more brutal recovery process, and the kind of diet that makes you never want to see its required food again – but when she runs….
Hmnh, when she runs….
When. she. runs.
Honestly, I got nothing. When She Runs never provides what I’d consider to be a full narrative, regarding its subjects & subject matter. At best, I’d describe it as a snapshot of an obsessive-compulsive goal-in-progress; but even that angle leaves the viewer having to fill in the blanks.
Kirstin has dedicated herself to competitive running; and if the intensity of her preparations – both going forward with Olympic aspirations, and divesting herself of all ‘distractions’ to that end – were any indication, this process was to be too long a road, or too steep a spiral, to be covered by a modest production. The old saying “The only battle that counts is the next one” came to mind, here. The film suggests that each qualifying step Kirstin takes is the single most important moment to her, and the run-up to each one a most critical period.
Beyond notably long scenes of Kirstin enduring her regimen (clearly meant to be exhausting/ painful to watch), the film provided a (relatively) brief look at what else populates this latest critical period in her life.
A young son & estranged husband provide the only real context of the film, as indicators of both how much racing means to Kirstin, and how much she is willing to sacrifice to that end. This point in the film (essentially a necessary interruption, for Kirstin) frames various dynamics to its characters (particularly between Kirstin & her estranged husband); but doesn’t actually provide the film’s conflict.
Kirstin provided the conflict to her own story, as this day-in-the-life snapshot captured what happens when her attempts at controlling her own destiny are foiled in even the slightest way.
Obsession isn’t defined by your compulsions, but by how you react to being denied them. In this case, Kirstin’s reaction, to a critically timed setback, actually made all those lingering regimen scenes pay off. It was a little hard to watch, actually, given all of the work she had put in, up to that point.
I’d be willing to settle for that as the film’s narrative – the try-too-hard-to-control-the-universe-and-it-snaps-back angle – but When She Runs doesn’t even take that route. The resolution somewhat bypasses the brief conflict, and establishes that this was, in fact, just another incremental step in Kirstin’s seemingly endless journey.
At best, When She Runs could be viewed as a head-shaker cautionary tale, with Kirstin trapped in a Hell of her own making – just one hiccup away from derailing completely; but I would’ve preferred not having to infer that for myself.
Just throwing a moment-in-time on screen, and letting the viewer figure out what it meant, is kind of a bold risk; but on its own, When She Runs just kind of passes through.
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