Saoirse Ronan’s latest film, The Outrun, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20th to rave reviews from critics. The film is an adaptation of Amy Liptrot’s bestselling memoir about her recovery from alcohol addiction. Set in Scotland’s remote Orkney Islands, the film explores themes of addiction, recovery, and redemption.
Summary of The Film
The Outrun follows Rona (Saoirse Ronan), a young woman from London who returns to the Orkney Islands where she grew up after a decade struggling with alcohol addiction in the city. Back on the isolated islands, Rona attempts to rebuild her life with the help of her estranged family, taking work on a sheep farm and reconnecting with the wild, windswept beauty of the northern islands.
As she embarks on the difficult path to sobriety, Rona must confront painful memories from her childhood and come to terms with years of self-destructive behavior. The wild landscape of Orkney becomes a refuge and a source of healing as Rona develops a passionate interest in studying birds and sea life. Yet temptation is never far away, and Rona faces an ongoing inner struggle to stay sober and chart a new course.
The Outrun has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics, with much of the praise centered on Saoirse Ronan’s lead performance.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called Ronan’s performance “remarkable” and “intensely sympathetic”, capturing both Rona’s vulnerability and determination with emotional authenticity:
“Ronan shows Rona’s spiky defiance and neediness, and the moments when she shuts down emotionally, avoiding eye contact, retreating behind a barrage of sardonic wit.”
Justin Chang of Variety wrote that Ronan gives “the performance of her career”, projecting “intelligence, wit and weary self-awareness all mingling in those soulful eyes.”
Indiewire’s Kate Erbland praised the “career-best work” of Ronan, who plays Rona with “a bone-deep understanding of damage and disappointment and desire and hope.”
Director and Cinematography Also Earn Praise
While Ronan’s performance anchors the emotional impact of The Outrun, critics also highlighted the work of director Nora Fingscheidt and cinematographer Yunus Roy Imer.
Fingscheidt, making her English language directorial debut after the German film System Crasher, brings a documentary-style naturalism to the film. Variety’s Chang wrote that she “so thoroughly inhabits Rona’s perspective” and films with “handheld, you-are-there urgency.”
Cinematographer Imer captures the rugged beauty of the Orkney landscapes, earning comparisons to Andrea Arnold’s work on Fish Tank and American Honey. In an interview with Filmmaker Magazine, Imer discussed his approach:
“I wanted the audience to feel the power and divinity of the Nature, and how it affects Rona’s state of mind. The weather and the landscapes almost become characters themselves.”
What’s Next for The Outrun and Saoirse Ronan
The Outrun was picked up for distribution by A24 shortly after its Sundance premiere. It is expected to be released in theaters later this year, possibly in time for awards season.
Given the rave reviews, particularly for Ronan’s lead performance, there is already speculation she could be in contention for Best Actress nominations at the Academy Awards and other ceremonies.
Ronan has been nominated for four Oscars already in her career, including a Best Actress nod last year for her role as the title character in a new adaptation of Lady Macbeth. She took on a surprising comedic role with a cameo in Greta Gerwig’s hit Barbie film, also released last year.
With the triumph of her work in The Outrun, Ronan cements her status as one of the most talented and versatile young actors working today. And with more projects in development like a Jane Austen film directed by Autumn de Wilde, Ronan’s star continues to rise.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.