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SEE HOW SHE RUNS is a decent Joanne Woodward vehicle featuring good acting but a somewhat predictable plot. Likely one of TV's first responses to the running craze of the seventies, the movie is pretty dated and simplistic in its treatment of the sport. We see Woodward going on long runs in full length jeans not once but twice, and while she winds up wearing the Nike swoosh on race day, earlier she dons some pretty funky looking shoes, including a canvas pair of flats that probably would have given anyone else massive blisters and shin splints (though she never has any such issues). Still, if you can forgive the inconsistencies, this is an okay movie on the subject of running and those who catch the fever of training for a marathon.
The plot is rife with predictable roadblocks placed in the path of Woodward's desire to run, including the sketchy ex who frequently questions her abilities yet ultimately seeks reconciliation (which the script nimbly avoids in surprisingly well-played late scene), two remarkably bratty daughters who are jealous of their mother's training time away from them, and a chilling attack during a night run at the end of the second act. From her school colleagues to her landlord to her friends, not a single person initially supports her marathon aspirations, which might be dramatically interesting, but comes off as a little unrealistic. Still, Woodward is uniformly better than the material. In particular, her reactions and physical breakdown after escaping her attacker are so believable that it is a little disturbing. This scene (along with the agonizing climax) are atypically serious moments in what is otherwise a fairly lighthearted look at the process of training for a marathon.
Probably the highlight of the movie is the climactic marathon footage, which features lots of genuine location work in Massachusetts and what appears to be real marathon clips spliced in with Woodward's run. As someone who has run marathons, the filming here is far more realistic and believable than the earlier training sessions where Woodward barely sweats; the filmmakers show how simultaneously painful yet exhilarating the experience can be. SEE HOW SHE RUNS is hardly a classic and definitely shows its anachronistic seventies roots, but as a testament to the problems and joys of those who want to train for endurance, it's not a bad try. 6/10
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