Box art for The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner


A young rebel is chosen to represent his reform school in a track race.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: While this show of compassion may not sit comfortably with those who distrust social agitation and too easy sympathy, it must be said that a splendid presentation is made by Mr. Richardson.

- Bosley Crowther, New York Times, Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Rotten: An iconic representation of a time, less so now.

- Chris Barsanti,, Monday, May 14, 2007


- Cole Smithey,, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Audience Reviews

1 star

Well, I must say I'm very surprised. I've never really seen such an important conceptual movie ruined by such poor filmmaking. The post-war angst of this film, plus its youth culture concepts and even more important, its attempts at time at social realism, make a very biting and angry essay on social materialism and conformity of the time. The acting is amazing, and the arguments it makes are very poignant, but everything else at one point or another falls completely apart. For one thing, the story is predictable in a bad way--by the time the movie is a third of the way over, it's hard to pay attention because it's pretty obvious the decision he is going to make at the end, whatever his motivations (the revealing of which aren't nearly as surprising as they should of been). The cinematography was terrible! Many close-ups are indecipherable due to the fast movement of the bodies or characters within them, a lot of the mise-en-scene is cluttered in a distracting, "Wait, what are we supposed to be looking at?" way, and sometimes it seems like the filmmakers didn't care about the fact that their camera seems to be ready to fall over. One particular tracking shot down the side of the street was awful in a way that made me wonder, "Why did they even bother including it?" I get a sense that in many ways, this is a low-budget film, but I've seen enough films rise above their budget for much less important topics often enough that it feels almost like all the energy went into the scriptwriting and acting and by the time they got to the actual shooting, they all ran out of energy. The editing is uneven. Some parts of the editing are magnificent, mostly with the running/flash-back style cuts and montages. The continuity editing is terrible, and half the time it looks like they just didn't care where the shot ended, just as long as they had another shot (good or bad) to follow it. This movie moves like a clunky engine desperately needing some transmission fluid, and no amount of "social realism" forgives that, especially since this movie isn't. Overall, I was disappointed because had the actual production of this film been well done, the movie itself would have been very amazing. It is, indeed, memorable. It just suffers from bad grammar that garbles up its message. --PolarisDiB

- PolarisDiB, Thursday, April 5, 2007

3 stars

Immediately I was transported to another country in another time period. I fell asleep right away because it was too late into the evening to try to decipher what the characters were saying. The next day I put on the subtitles, which helped IMMENSELY. For people who are not used to British English, I suggest doing this. The subtitles, however, ran over all the people's faces and a lot of action was hidden by these enormous subtitles. On to the story. Reading from the other reviews, I'm sure you get that the story is about a poor teen who has family problems and gets into trouble for the thrill of it (and as an escape from his boring and serious family life). When he's out and about with his friend, the accomplice, they get into all sorts of trouble, from stealing cars to picking up girls, to stealing money, and then spending it all. These scenes, juxtaposed with his dying father, his whorey mother, and his annoying bratty siblings, is enough to justify his actions. I'm not sure how old Tom Courtenay is in this movie but he's supposed to be playing a teen, and he looks like a skeletal old man, especially in the scenes where there is running (very unattractive, for those who care about these things). I wasn't really a fan of all the flashbacks. To be honest, it was a bit jarring and sometimes pointless because the flashbacks didn't seem to move the story further. The middle of the movie felt slow but it started moving again once tension built up between "Smith" and "Stacy". Maybe the book was written in this way so the film followed suit. From watching this movie, I found myself asking "Who do you live your life for?" "What does winning mean?" "Who is playing who?" Smith chose what he did because what he had at the school was probably better than what he had at home and being too good at running may have put too much pressure on him to succeed and for the benefit of people he didn't trust. He essentially chose not to play the game.

- jinyookim, Wednesday, January 7, 2009

4 stars

A great "angry young man" drama from the British New Wave. Very realistic and very interesting this movie tells the story about a teenager who just can't give in to the system. He knows the people in charge suck and his home life is sucky so he turns to a life of petty "kid stuff" crime to alleviate both problems and have some laughs with his best friend and girlfriend. He gets caught though and sent to reform school where the governor in charge wants him to be a world class runner and the do gooder who works there wants so very much to fix his anger. This movie does a fantabulous job at capturing the sometimes rational, sometimes irrational anger at establishment that comes in some youth. I found myself intensely remembering being that age and having that same anti-establishment feeling inside of me to the point where I couldn't even verbalize it. The performances are strong and the story and dialogue is top notch. The only downside is the sometimes to stylized camera work (too many shots are sped up and they can come off as humorous rather than serious) but mostly it's forgiven with the old adage, "well, in the 60's they just wanted to be different."

- Sunshineyness, Sunday, December 13, 2009