Sexism is a daily struggle for every single woman out there, a fact that doesn’t need a debate. There is a thing about content that strives to highlight this problem—it misses out on nuance most of the time. And that is why we have mixed feelings about “Run Sweetheart Run.” It is evident that nuance was not a factor they considered in the storyline because, honestly, there was no requirement for it. “Run Sweetheart Run” was mostly metaphorical, which lagged in bits but was ultimately a rather clever commentary on the state of affairs. We would have liked it a lot more if the ending had been different. Allow us to explain ourselves through the storyline.
What Happens To Cherie On The Date With Ethan?
“Run Sweetheart Run” starts with Cherie, a legal assistant, complaining to the management about an inappropriate comment made by one of her co-workers, Larry. But her concerns are brushed under the carpet in the name of the greater good of the workplace, as Larry is a valuable employee. Cherie accepts it, as women accept most injustices due to a lack of choice. She could have fought harder, or she could have lived with it and kept her job so that she could take care of her daughter at home. That day, when she is going back home on the bus, she finds a guy leeching at her. He is easier to ignore than the guy who starts touching her inappropriately, forcing her to get off the bus. Someone will wonder why she did not raise a hue and cry right then and there. Isn’t it obvious? Because she knew she wouldn’t be taken seriously. She had tried complaining that very morning about something similar, and her concerns were dismissed. Why would this be any different? We see a woman on the bus who notices what is happening to Cherie but ignores it. It is very easy to think of her as the villain, but we often forget that there is a sort of desensitization that creeps into a woman’s everyday psyche. This desensitization is a coping mechanism. If not for it, the rage of having to deal with this multiple times every day would be too much.
Anyway, Cherie gets a call from her boss, James Fuller, and he tells her that he has fired Larry for his behavior. He also needs a favor from her. She must go to a client dinner on his behalf as she has overbooked him on the day of his anniversary. Cherie agrees to the favor and finds a babysitter for her daughter. The scene is that of a woman getting ready for dinner with a man. It could remain completely official, or things could be better. With pepper spray in hand, in case things turn out to be bad, Cherie leaves to meet the client. When she arrives at his doorstep, she finds someone extremely good-looking. White male, tall, blue eyes- features that come together to make a person easy on the eyes, which is its own kind of social currency.
The date is going well. A few things happen, though. Cherie gets her period, Ethan is scared of dogs, and he misidentifies astronomy as astrology and Jupiter as Venus, making Cherie correct him. She apologizes and says that she doesn’t want it to look like she is correcting him. Would a man apologize if he did what Cherie had done, or would he take the opportunity to feel like a superior being all over again? Wasn’t it Simone de Beauvoir who pointed out that the average male feels himself to be a demigod compared to women?
Anyway, after the date, Ethan invites her back into the house. After some hesitation, Cherie agrees, only for it to turn into her biggest mistake. Right before going into the house, Ethan breaks the fourth wall and signals the audience to wait. He is putting on a show and wants us to watch it. The horror of what happens next is that it is behind closed doors. There are sounds of violence and Cherie’s screams before she manages to open the door and escape. She is hurt and bleeding all over as she makes her way to safety. There are a few women standing near a theater, and Cherie asks them to call 911. The police come, but it is evident that they don’t believe her. Here is a woman who has very clearly been attacked, but she is the one who is put in jail for “public intoxication.” We are not sure if we should dismiss this part as being too much for the sake of social commentary. But we do know that women not being believed are a regular thing. Every time a woman is attacked, the narrative starts with disbelief and moves on to discredit her with questions about her clothes, drinks, and life. It is amazing how we contradict ourselves as a society by saying that boys will be boys, which is an acknowledgment of the cruelty that men are capable of, yet we make it a point not to believe women when they say they have been victims of such acts.
In jail, Cherie meets another woman. She tells her the story of what happened to her, and the woman instantly panics. She makes noise about wanting to be in another cell, but let’s Cherie know that she is a “marked woman” now and is going to be hunted by him. True to her words, Ethan comes to the jail to meet Cherie. She is verbal about how she doesn’t want to meet him, but her pleas fall on deaf ears. When alone, Ethan tells her that he did not expect her to put up a fight. He also lets her know that the hunt has started and that he will let her go if she can survive till sunrise. To make things “fair,” he lets her have a head start.
Cherie leaves the police station, not knowing what any of it means. She sees a lot of flyers for missing women on her way out, watching one of the daily fears of women realized. She makes her way to her boss’s house, and he is horrified to see her in this state. He assures her that she is safe with him, and he will take care of the matter. Throughout this time, James’ wife Judy has a lot of nervous energy about her, which Cherie notices. Either way, she washes up and gets cleaned up. However, before she makes her way out, she does a little investigation and checks her boss’s calendar. As expected, she has dinner with Ethan. Curiosity gets the better of her, and she tries to find his history, which reveals that James had sent dozens of girls over to Ethan’s for similar dinners. It is a horrifying moment of realization that this wasn’t a safe space for Cherie. After all, the reason she trusted her boss was that he had shown her he was one of the good guys by firing Larry. The whole thing about James being in cahoots with Ethan is a metaphor for the “little boys club. Even seemingly woke men are nothing if not men. Patriarchy is about a lopsided power structure that lets men get away with doing the bare minimum to be called “good. But we forget that being “good” is one thing, and willingly giving away their privileges is a whole other thing. And that’s why it is often argued that men cannot be feminists; they can be allies at best.
But coming back to the movie, Judy warns Cherie that Ethan can smell her, and she should try to stay as clean as possible to avoid him. Cherie understands and makes her escape, closely followed by James. She gets away just in time and boards a bus, getting off at a convenience store. She buys a pack of tampons and goes to the bathroom. But to her dismay, the moment she comes out, Ethan is waiting for her, and he drags her. He beats her up, and at this moment, the camera turns away to show a homeless woman ignoring the scene in front of her. The purpose of this scene could be two-fold. One is the decision not to depict brutality against women as a titillating factor for the audience. This could also be the reason why the initial act of violence that happens after their date is also only depicted through sounds rather than visuals. The second reason could be the depiction of how people are more or less aware of the violence inflicted on women behind closed doors but choose to ignore it. The first time, it was us as the audience. The second time, it was the homeless woman. However, she could have had some other reasons. A woman on the streets is not protected against anything. Maybe her ignorance was an act of self-preservation. Either way, the convenience store guy tries to help Cherie but is driven away by Ethan. Cherie takes this chance to escape and finds her ex-boyfriend Trey waiting for it. He takes her to his house, and Cherie is completely paranoid the entire way. When she gets there, she’s taken in by Dawn, her ex-best friend who is currently in a relationship with Trey. Cherie gets cleaned up, but even then, she is convinced that she will be found and is ready to run in her sneakers. One of the people in the house reads her tarot cards and predicts that she is a person of great strength and courage and she will find a way to overcome her struggles. Please file away this point in your memory. We will explain later why this irked us to no end.
Anyway, as Cherie expects, Ethan shows up at Trey’s place, and he ends up killing everyone. He even bites off Trey’s head, proving that he is indeed no ordinary man but something else entirely. Cherie makes another attempt to escape from him and ends up in church, only to find that Ethan was there all along, disguised as the Father. He mentions that he likes old priests. Was it just a mockery of Cherie or a reference to the church scandals of the previous years? Ethan tells Cherie that he exists because people believe in him. He shows her his true form, off-camera, but we know it is something demonic. However, she is saved in the nick of time by the Father, who gives her a lighter and leads her to an escape before being killed himself. The route takes Cherie to an underground party scene, where Cherie comes up with a few survival methods for herself. She uses bleach tissues to tie up her wounds so that it kills the smell of blood on her. She also nicks a few clothes and makes a call to the “First Lady,” a name she has been seeing on a lot of the missing people flyers. As she is making her way out, she is cornered by a group of guys but is rescued by a few women who lead her out. This is one of the few heartwarming instances of women standing up for each other that we see in the movie. This stands in complete contrast to the incident on the bus at the beginning of “Run Sweetheart Run.” We don’t have it in us to blame that woman either, but this was good to see. However, things are still not good because when Cherie is in the car, her wound opens up and a single drop of blood bleeds out. Ethan is on the scene immediately, and the car crashes. He is about to kill Cherie when she is saved by a dog. Thankful, she makes her way to meet the First Lady. And here, we get some context for what is going on.
The First Lady tells Cherie that Ethan was sent on Earth to maintain order, and his way of doing that was to make sure that men reign supreme. He had eliminated entire matriarchies and punished people like Cherie to show them their place. The story is a commentary on the rise of patriarchy as a social system and how it has failed us as a society, despite its promise to the contrary. She asks for Cherie’s help in ending him. Cherie is hesitant but accepts when she realizes that if she doesn’t do it, her daughter will be killed.
‘Run Sweetheart Run’ Ending Explained: Does Cherie Kill Ethan?
The answer from the beginning has been 5.25 AM. It is the time of sunrise and the time when Ethan must go back into hiding. All Cherie needs to do is catch him in the sunlight. And she is prepared for that. She lures him out with her blood, but she is, after all, one woman against the system of sexism. He gets the better of her. All Cherie can do right now is use her wits. She tells Ethan that she admits defeat and wants him to have her. Her submission is all he wants, and he frees her. Cherie takes this opportunity to throw a rock at the glass, letting the sunshine in. The women standing outside continue throwing rocks until Ethan can’t escape anymore. Weakened by the sunlight, he is struggling when Cherie calls him out for being so weak as to be destroyed by something as simple as sunlight.
Again, there is a clever commentary here. The first is the fragility of male egos and how little it takes for them to be hurt. The second is a reference to the ignorance that breeds sexism. There is a play between light and dark. Ethan thrived in the night, in darkness when the world was not actively thinking but letting their minds be idle. Dawn, which is light, is a period of knowledge and activity. As Cherie sets Ethan on fire and kills him, this time, it’s her who breaks the fourth wall and looks at the camera. She smiles, signifying the coming of a new age where women are in charge of their own stories.
It’s not a bad ending. It showed the victim turning into not just her savior but also the avenger. Please note that the movie did not carry a message as much as it presented a metaphor, which it did admirably well. We can see the appeal of it. It is a letting out of the female rage in a very visible fight against the personification of everything that makes women’s lives difficult. It is satisfactory and exhilarating. But allow us to explain what we have been putting off since the beginning of this article. Through the representation of Cherie’s fight against Ethan, they placed the onus on the woman to overcome her problems. In scenarios where we do end up acknowledging the atrocities faced by women, society has a tendency to ask the question of “why.” ‘Why did she not leave the relationship if it was bad?’, ‘Why did she not fight harder?’, ‘Why did she not know better?’ etc. To reiterate a previous point, sexism is not manifested in individual instances. It is a systemic issue that fails women at every step of the way. Until we learn to recognize that, we cannot fight it at its roots. This is the reason we were not too fond of the tarot card scene. Because, just like the ending, it ignored the nuance of the system. Had the focus of “Run Sweetheart Run” been on Ethan instead of Cherie, we would have seen why it was so difficult for her to fight him to begin with. This is the metaphor we needed to see the most and the one which would have placed the responsibility where it should have been—with the entirety of society instead of the one-off individual.
Final Thoughts: What Works For ‘Run Sweetheart Run’?
Despite our conflicted feelings about the ending of “Run, Sweetheart Run,” we would say that it was a good movie, even though it missed the opportunity to be better. There were times it lagged, and we would have preferred the theory of evolution instead of the reversal of the “rib theory,” but we know the movie isn’t perfect. However, it would be unfair if we failed to admit that it was not easy to watch. Movies like “Run Sweetheart Run” affect women differently because we know that this is far from fiction, and every single woman is extremely close to violence at any point in her life. It is all a matter of luck and chance, whether you like it or not. For this very reason, we would choose not to recommend it to others, despite its metaphorical brilliance. Watch it at your own risk, with a trigger warning in place. Otherwise, read a newspaper. The narration of the horror women face is present in both.
“Run Sweetheart Run” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Shana Feste.