“The Long Run” is a small, low-key story that’s well-told and well-acted; while not flawless, it’s a refreshing piece. The film stars Armin Mueller-Stahl (“Shine”) as Bertold Bohmer, a German who lives Pretoria, South Africa and trains runners for a very tough marathon that takes place every year. After he’s replaced one day, he finds himself presented with a new prospect: Christine (Nhati Mosheshi), an illegal immigrant who is very independent and untrained, but obviously has talent. He attempts to convince her to let him be her coach, but she’s captured by police before she can answer. After Bertold bails her out of jail, the two set about training.
I liked the way that the relationship was portrayed between the older man and younger woman. She rebels against his orders – going swimming instead of finishing the practice run; part of her feels that he only sees her as a racing machine to train, but there’s evidence of a deeper friendship and bond between the two. The performances by both actors are marvelous and it certainly helps that they are working from a very good screenplay. It’s not a film without some concerns here and there; 120 minutes seems a bit too long for this story and eventually, I felt like I wanted it to finally start pushing quicker towards the Big Race. The fact that some of the middle section follows a rather predictable arc also doesn’t entirely help matters.
Still, I found this small film moving and, more often than not, inspiring and entertaining. Technical credits are also quite good; the movie’s cinematography is gorgeous, capturing the terrific locations quite well. Note: while there are some instances of the film of nudity and language, the R rating seems a bit harsh.
VIDEO: Universal presents “Long Run” in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation slides between good and great, but the overall impression is a very good one. Sharpness and detail are good, but the picture has a very slightly soft appearance that actually is very appealing, as is the cinematography in general.
Flaws were noticable, but I didn’t find them irritating. The print used appeared to be in excellent condition, with only a few very small specks seen. Thankfully, edge enhancement is kept to a bare minimum, so the picture retains a pleasing, natural appearance. Some slight grain was seen now and then, but no other problems such as pixelation were noticed. Colors looked beautiful, as the marvelous scenery contributes to the gorgeous color palette of the film. Overall, this is a very nice transfer from Universal.
SOUND: “Long Run” is presented in Dolby 2.0 by Universal. The film is mainly dialogue-driven and doesn’t exactly require audio fireworks. While a 5.1 mix would have likely added some enjoyable ambience and filled the room with the wonderful score, the 2.0 mix offers very good quality and certainly has no considerable concerns.
MENUS: The backgrounds are simple, using images from the film or, in the case of the main menu, the cover art.
EXTRAS: Trailer, bios. An absurdly long ad for other Universal Focus titles starts after the viewer presses play. Thankfully, this can be skipped with the remote.
Final Thoughts: “The Long Run” does feel a bit long at times, but, thanks to the performances of its two leads, I thought it was a very enjoyable picture. For those seeking a smaller film at the video store, “The Long Run” might be worth checking out as a rental.
The Film *** DVD Grades