The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962)
Critic Consensus: Dry and full of angst, this British New Wave classic features potent social commentary and a star making performance by Tom Courtenay as a textbook example of the "angry young man."
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Colin Smith (Tom Courtenay) is a rebellious teen with a huge chip on his shoulder. Too lazy to work, he drifts into petty thievery. He is unsatisfied at home and he resents the promiscuity of his mother, who spends more time on her back than she does standing up for her children. Colin's criminal activities end when he winds up being sent to Borstal, an institutional gathering place for juvenile offenders. After plenty of time running from police, Colin is chosen to represent Borstal in a cross country race against a public school. He resents '"the system", especially the demeanor of the Governor (Michael Redgrave), for whom Colin believes is representative of all he despises about corrective institutions. As he trains for the big race, he searches for away to get back at the people who put him in Borstal. … More
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Critic Reviews for The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
The performance of Tom Courtenay and the imaginative, if sometimes overfussy, direction of Tony Richardson, plus some standout lensing by Walter Lassally makes this a worthwhile pic.
While this show of compassion may not sit comfortably with those who distrust social agitation and too easy sympathy, it must be said that a splendid presentation is made by Mr. Richardson.
Ultimately, Richardson's pot-shots at consumerism and class have lost some urgency, but the nihilistic, punky buzz packs an immortal wallop. Classic.
Audience Reviews for The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
Another exquisite film from 1962, the year that brought you Lawrence of Arabia, To Kill a Mockingbird and King Kong vs. Godzilla. Tony Richardson knows how to make a motion picture and this is unequivocally one of his best.
While The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is a beautifully bleak story about a reform school kid and for good or ill, the choices he makes. Great direction and cinematography along with a great debut performance by Tom Courtenay are definitely the highlights of this movie, but what I really liked was the flashback-told story and buildup to a truly well-done finale. Out of all the "angry young man" movies I've seen, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner was the best because it actually explained WHY its protagonist was the way he was as opposed to making you endure the behavior of a raving dipshit.
Ahh Mother,why oh why oh why oh why, don't they make them like they used to? Forget your Guy Richie crime capers,'Loneliness of the long distance runner' is British cinema at its best. I can't explain why I love this film (erm so why I am I here?), whenever I try to explain the plot to friends they look perplexed as to why the film should be so good. Tom Courtenay is in his element in his portrayal as the 'loveable rogue'. Has 'Jerusalem' ever been more poignantly sung as it has here? Im not urging you to go out and purchase the film, but if you have a spare 90 odd minutes and it comes on television then watch it. Ta.
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