Runners | Chicago Reader

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A father's obsessive search for his runaway 11-year-old daughter ends in a belabored and silly marathon confrontation in a hotel room. British director Charles Sturridge's eccentric account of missing children is tasteful; but it is also meandering, histrionic, and tepid to the point of inanity. The runaway girl, for example, mercifully does not become a junkie, prostitute, or victim, but incomprehensibly does become a leaflet distributor wearing a wig. James Fox, his face and acting much doughier than previously, is convincingly distraught, befuddled, and inept as the father. But the London he searches seems a rather tame place despite the dank yellow filtering and Sturridge's quaint notions of the pimps, creeps, and nymphets that populate it. There are, as might be expected in a film on this subject, a number of heartrending images: a mother chases a boy through a train, and discovering he is not her missing son, embraces him anyway; Fox tries to cajole his daughter into returning home and is tackled by two bystanders who take him for a molester. But despite such occasional inspiration, Runners is more bewildering and irrelevant than it is tragic or enlightening.

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