Roush Review: Hop Aboard the Crazy Train of HBO's 'Run'

Run Domhnall Gleeson Merrit Wever
Review
HBO

A wild and gloriously unpredictable ride awaits anyone who hops aboard the crazy train of Run, an exhilarating exercise in dark and bracingly original romantic comedy. From Vicky Jones, a collaborator and fellow executive producer with Fleabag's Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who shows up in a memorable cameo halfway through the season), this breathless series never stops moving.

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With ripe romantic melodrama and plenty of scandalous secrets, Julian Fellowes adapts his 2016 novel set in a class-conscious Victorian society.

From the moment bored California suburbanite Ruby (the marvelous Merritt Wever) gets a text from rascally ex-boyfriend Billy (charismatic Domhnall Gleeson) telling her to “RUN” based on a pact from their college days some 15 years earlier, there's no looking back, only propulsively forward. Wever, a chameleon of an actor from Nurse Jackie and Godless to the more recent Unbelievable and Marriage Story, embraces Ruby's playfully reignited sensuality with gusto — though not without some early hyperventilating over the life and family she has impulsively left behind.

As Ruby and Billy begin their cross-country adventure from Grand Central station, never knowing what peril or challenge looms around the bend, travel on the rails has rarely seemed so inviting, or sexy. (The cozy "roomette" they share had me flashing back to Hitchcock's classic North by Northwest, which Run sometimes resembles during several suspenseful misadventures.)

Run HBO

(Credit: HBO)

The chemistry is palpable between newly liberated yet conflicted Ruby and the enigmatic Billy, a burned-out and not entirely convincing lifestyle guru, as they tease information from each other about what they're running from and possibly toward. "Is anyone totally honest?" muses Billy, as Ruby tries to reconcile the dichotomy between her "normal" and "fun" selves while pondering what her travel companion's end game might be.

Can either return to the life they had before? Will they even want to? Having only seen the first five episodes, I'm guessing such logical questions will have to wait while we sit back and enjoy the journey.

Run, Series Premiere, Sunday, April 12, 10:30/9:30c, HBO