Wednesday, March 24, 2010

THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER (1962) - Tony Richardson


Like Burton in Look Back in Anger or Bronson in Bronson, Tom Courtenay in TLOTLDR is angry, though less flamboyantly so. He doesn't release his anger in bouts of violence or verbal assault. Instead, he runs like the wind, channeling his festering emotions into the many miles he logs over boggy though beautiful black and white British landscapes. Though milder than Burton or Bronson, Courtenay's angry feelings have focus. Perhaps it's even better to call them a series of healthy resentments. He's trying to burn them off like bad calories.

Courtenay resents the factory where his father worked and died for no more than a 500 quid life insurance payout. He resents his mother more for cashing in that 500 quid a day after the funeral to buy a new telly and a brand new suitor. He resents the bakery that left its window open and made it so easy for him to rob. He resents the fellow detainees at his new Borstal lock-up for trying to ass-kiss the Governor. But more than all of this he resents himself when he becomes the Governor's star runner in the big race against a local prep school. It's time for him to do something about all this resentment...or better yet NOT do something about it.

TLOTLDR is a smart movie about teenage rebellion. It doesn't wear its resentments on its sleeve like a Hot Topic doofus with an armful of faux tribal Maori tattoos. It knows that sometimes the biggest statement you can make as a youth in a f*cked up system is by what you DON'T say, DON'T wear or DON'T do.

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