The creative team behind Sundance 2018 darling Searching has found an exceptional leading lady for their next feature film. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Sarah Paulson (American Horror Story) will star in Run, Aneesh Chaganty’s sophomore effort.
In a similar vein to the family-based thriller that shot the Searching crew to stardom, Run centers on a teenage girl who has lived in isolation all her life thanks to her highly secretive and protective mother (Paulson). The girl soon finds her life in tatters when she uncovers something disturbing about the woman who raised her.
Chaganty is slated to direct the project from a screenplay that he co-penned with Sev Ohanian, who also worked as a scribe and producer on Searching. Production is slated to begin in October.
Honestly, this collaboration already sounds like cinematic excellence in the making because Chaganty truly made waves with his debut feature. Searching takes the potential technical gimmickry of “Screenlife” movies and deftly maneuvers the burgeoning subcategory (if not a genre) in order to tell its story in an inventive and engaging way.
The emotional quality of Searching packs the greatest punch. In unabashedly going for a whopper of an opening sequence that has received comparisons to the Pixar film Up, Chaganty and co. makes it impossible for us to disconnect from the plights of the starring Kim family (led by John Cho). The film’s protagonists come across are humans first and foremost, and that generates automatic investment.
Keeping emotions apace with Searching’s baseline thriller narrative greatly amplifies this “period movie,” as Ohanian describes it to our own Matthew Monagle, beyond its structural trappings. Basically, through its use of specific consumer products as cameras, Searching is an authentic but blatant time capsule of this point in the 21st century. Ohanian says:
“I think there’s a part of us that maybe knows that 50 years from now people will not be able to watch the film and understand it unless they’re archeologists trying to dissect what happened with society at this point in time. Hopefully, the story and the characters and the nuance and the emotion is what kind of helps the movie transcend its stuck-in-a-time-box appeal.”
Ohanian further tells Monagle in the same interview that the stringent technical formalities found in Screenlife movies – the ones that were dictated to him and Chaganty by fellow producer and Screenlife advocate Timur Bekmambetov (Profile) – weren’t a total priority for him and Chaganty as long as the emotional crux of the film is established. Instead, more traditional elements of Searching‘s production, such as the use of non-diegetic music, were deliberately incorporated into the film to further emotional impact.
Clearly, Chaganty and the rest of the Searching crew are here to tell a good story, no matter how they do it. Their innovation organically results from whatever tool they utilize depending on any one narrative. That’s even how Chaganty shot to widespread recognition through his short film Seeds, which was filmed on Google Glass.
In under three minutes, one man’s travels across the world to deliver a heartwarming message easily transforms a relatable and overwhelming celebration of human connection. The emotional potency behind the film’s simple premise pretty much negates any possible contrivance of its Google Glass camera lens.
Chaganty has since transposed his brand of empathetic storytelling onto the big screen, chasing a different format with a much darker story with Searching. For its part, Run seems to continue down that path of intensity and dare I say, even terror. I could see how the creepy secrets of the film would unfurl into a full-fledged horror experience. Maybe one that ends up making us cry, as well.
While I look forward to seeing how Chaganty and Ohanian eventually tackle Run in terms of genre and style, hiring someone of Paulson’s caliber to lead the movie also sets a fantastic precedent. Her most mainstream claims to fame thus far have been a result of Ryan Murphy’s tenacity on the small screen. Although first appearing in a minor role in American Horror Story: Murder House, Paulson burst onto the scene in the anthology’s Asylum season as a vital supporting character. The rest is AHS history.
Paulson is an Emmys regular as a result of her work on AHS (with Murder House and Roanoke being distinct exceptions to her nominations slate). She is frankly one of the few reasons I try to remain invested in the show season after season. Paulson’s work is simply a masterclass of nuance. Nevertheless, the detached zany qualities of AHS ultimately drive me away every time it comes back on the air. At least Paulson is always solid in her corner of those bizarre worlds.
Thankfully, her collaboration on another Murphy production, namely The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story, is more cohesively praiseworthy. The true crime anthology is taut and demanding, bolstered by satisfying, multifaceted portrayals. This is especially so for Paulson’s depiction of Marcia Clark, a decidedly complicated woman fighting against the chauvinism of the world around her. The Emmy that Paulson won for the role is rightfully deserved, and even makes future appearances in ACS – the next being Katrina – very auspicious.
On the big screen, Paulson is as ruinous and versatile as ever. Over the years, Paulson has shown herself capable of being any one of the following examples: well-meaning but distanced (Martha Marcy May Marlene), cutthroat and despicable (12 Years a Slave), comforting and supportive (Carol), and perfectly skittish (Ocean’s 8). But in her long-overdue lead role in Blue Jay, she is finally allowed to take center stage with the least distractions. The result? One of the most subtle, believable, and beautiful protagonists of her career.
Paulson’s leading lady career is obviously already assured. However, teaming up with the Searching crew is a surefire way for something incredible to manifest on screen.
Related Topics: Sarah Paulson