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There truly is such a thing as typecasting, and for Taylor Lautner, his phenomenal, world-wide success in the Twilight franchise pretty much set him in stone, and since it ended, he’s had a tough time finding a place in film as something other than a character that has basically become a parody. Dabbling in comedy and action, and more, he has yet to evolve much past his work as the muscle-bound werewolf. With Run The Tide, he dips into indie drama, and it proves to be his most affecting role yet, one that finally might begin to widen the gap between Lautner the hunk and Lautner the actor.
In an unnamed New Mexico desert town, late twenty-something Reymond (Lautner) works as a gas station attendant, working hard to raise his much younger bother Oliver (Nick Christou). The two live in a trailer park, alone, Rey acting more as father than sibling as they try to make do on very little. Rey has sacrificed all he has to care for the boy, missing out on much that a young man should experience.
Their mother, Lola (Constance Zimmer) is in jail, a former junkie who has spent years behind bars trying to turn her life around. She is soon to be released and informs Rey that when she is, she will take back custody of Oliver, confident she can take control of her life. Oliver is excited but Rey has yet to tell him about a truth he knows about Lola and swears to his mother he won’t let her take his brother. In desperation, he decides to take Oliver on a trip to Santa Cruz on a “vacation” that in reality is an escape for not just his brother, but for himself as much.
Directed by Soham Mehta, Run The Tide is an uneven story that strives on its relationships, even while it doesn’t alway balance as well as it could. These are well-defined characters that earn their place in the story, and Mehta gives each room to breathe, crafting several impactful moments, despite some clichéd writing here and there and an obvious indie strumming guitar score. That said, the story of a young man on the run and hiding it from his little brother is a film that depends entirely on its performances, and while there are some lulls, for the most part, it is these performances that make it work.
That begins with Lautner, who might not have the chops to make this a real contender, but at last shows he’s got more to him than what we might expect. Sporting a scraggly light beard and downplaying his obvious good looks, he brings some weight to Rey, a man who never got the chance to be a kid, still learning about boundaries and responsibility while struggling to teach Oliver right and wrong. That’s most effective in a scene in a hotel when things come to a crushing moment of truth and a turning point for both boys.
Christou is also strong in his debut, lending some authenticity to the part, and so too does Zimmer, who, while in a limited part, is especially moving. She feels weathered and remorseful, crushed by the tragic missteps of her character’s past. She makes us truly wonder about what the value is of a second chance. There’s also a small part for Johanna Braddy, playing Rey’s old high school girlfriend, and is a role that feels mostly unnecessary, filling a romance gap that does nothing for the story overall.
But this is Lautner’s movie and he carries it well. It would be easy to dismiss him and hold onto the memories of his earlier work, but that would be a mistake. There is great growth here, and Lautner deserves a closer look. Run The Tide, if anything, serves as that stepping stone.
Director: Soham Mehta
Writer: Rajiv Shah
Stars: Taylor Lautner, Johanna Braddy, Constance Zimmer