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Sundance 2024: ‘The Outrun’ has Saoirse Ronan With A Career Defining Performance

Sweeping Landscapes, Stunning Cinematography, Non-Linear storytelling and an Oscar Worthy Performance makes The Outrun a must watch.

The Outrun (2024)
Saoirse Ronan appears in The Outrun by Nora Finscheidt, an official selection of the Premieres Program at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by The Outrun Film Ltd - Roy Imer.

The Outrun is a film that feels very personal and that is because it actually is. Adapted from the best-selling memoir of the same name by Amy Liptrot, the film is the arduous journey of a 29-year-old woman suffering from alcoholism to the determination and courage she had to conjure to heal herself over time. Saoirse Ronan has given a performance that is the talk of Sundance and rightfully so. She plays the part of a recovering alcohol addict who is on the verge of self-destruction to perfection. Over her career, she has been part of many critically acclaimed films and gave critically acclaimed performances but her acting in The Outrun is way above the rest. She does not hold back and lets herself be free just like her character Rona in the film. The sweeping landscapes of Scotland provide an amazing backdrop for her character and when you match that with some stunning cinematography, you get a masterpiece that has to be seen on the big screen to truly immerse yourself in the character and the film.

Rona (Saoirse Ronan) is a smart, intelligent young man who is working on her PhD in Biology. She is someone who not only works during the day but party hard at night. She is from the Orkney Islands which is off the northeastern coast of Scotland. she enjoys herself every moment she is in London. The city brings out her different persona and like most people, she makes friends, falls in love with her best friend and starts on a path towards alcoholism. She doesn’t understand why she drinks a lot and she puts herself in situations where she or someone she loves gets hurt and she is unable to forgive herself. After a night of partying, she almost becomes a victim of a violent crime. She realizes she needs to stop drinking and checks herself to a rehab clinic. After checking out of the clinic, she goes back to live with her dad (Stephen Dillane) in the Orkney Islands.

Rona hopes that the Orkney Islands will provide the healing power needed to continue to be sober, but she keeps repeating her mistakes as her past still has a stranglehold on her. She feels very calm and enjoys every bit of her life on the islands. Nature and the little things give her hope and are the only reason she has not spiraled herself into chaos. But with any addiction, relapses are a part of the journey but Rona’s relapses cost her more each time while hurting everyone around her in the process. She goes into rehab again and moves to an even remote island to escape from everything and what happens to her in the end makes up the rest of the story.

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The Outrun (2024)

Nora Fingscheidt has directed The Outrun with a first-person perspective in mind. Non-linear storytelling with dream-like sequences, psychedelic/trippy music, and sweeping landscape shots make for a very sumptuous film from a technical standpoint. This focus is on Rona in every scene and as we follow her through her ups and downs, we begin to empathize as it is hard to become sober and the lengths she goes to do is very courageous and scary at the time. She is looking for that reset, for any sort of minuscule ounce of connection with another human being that can maybe motivate, inspire, and bring her back to her old self. She was on the cusp of greatness at work and in her life but it all came crashing down and is there any way back is the question the film is trying to show us. There is a way and that is never to give up. That determination to no matter what fix her life is what drives Rona in the last half of the film.

The editing by Stephan Bechinger is one of the highlights of the film. It goes from very fast cuts to very slow cuts and transitions depending on which period of her life Rona is in. Some of the fast edits are hard to follow but they create a sequence of images when together tell exactly what Rona is feeling inside her. The cinematography by Yunus Roy Imer who also collaborated with Fingscheidt’s previous Sundance film The System Crasher is operating at another level in this film. Every frame of this film is a piece of art which makes this film stand out from the rest of the Sundance I have seen this year. Yunus has shot this very organically and visually pleasing to the eye with a lot of close-ups as he wants us to feel Rona through the various periods in her life. It is just beautiful to watch, plain and simple. The direction is outstanding as Fingscheidt does not hold back in any scene. She wants to show us that every time Rona drinks, makes a mistake or makes a wrong decision, there are consequences and she has to face them. There comes a time when we all have to confront our demons, only then will we be able to overcome them. Fingscheidt cleverly uses non-linear editing to connect the past and present and it is not some random connections. Every time Rona is going to make a mistake, she goes back and shows us what Rona had to go through to avoid something similar in the past. It is skillfully crafted and Fingscheidt deserves all the praise for that.

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Finally, we have to talk about the Oscar-worthy performance by Saoirse Ronan. You cannot take your eyes off the screen, she is relentless in her actions, as raw and authentic as possible of a human being on the cusp of losing it held down by the weights of addiction. Saoirse Ronan displays every range of her acting skills in this film, from being a total wreck to someone just listening to music and looking at the ocean. Nature is her strength and by the end of the film, she begins to feel like she can command and control it, being in harmony and one with it. The time jumps in the film are plenty and it is sometimes hard to follow but Rona’s changing hair colors in the different periods of her life make it easier to follow. The Outrun is a very emotionally charged film that is technically brilliant and brings out the very best of Saoirse Ronan. It is a haunting and uncomfortable to watch at time but that does not deter it from being an immersive cinematic experience.

The Outrun had it’s World Premiere in the Premieres section of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Head over to Sundance tickets to grab a ticket to the screenings.

The Outrun (2024)
Sundance 2024: ‘The Outrun’ has Saoirse Ronan With A Career Defining Performance
4.5

Prem

Founder/Creator of Talking Films. Created Talking films back in 2009 and has been an ardent cinema lover for the past 2 decades.

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