Director: Steph Green
Starring: Will Forte, Maxine Peake, Edward MacLiam, Sharon Horgan
This Irish-made movie may have lost out at the IFTAs, but it’s nominations were thoroughly deserved, and it has already bagged an award for Best Breakthrough Feature at the Boston Irish Film Festival. Run & Jump is a touching tale that, as a sub-plot, also features one of the most sensitively handled ‘coming out’ scenes ever.
Vanetia (Peake) has just brought her husband, Conor (MacLiam) home from the hospital after he suffered a stroke. Having spent a month in a coma, he is now in an almost child-like state. He appears unable to return to his former career as a carpenter, so Vanetia agrees to allow an American doctor and neuroscientist, Ted Fielding (Forte) to live in the family home, and record Conor’s recovery. Having a stranger in the house affects everyone’s adjustment to the new family dynamic, though, and Vanetia soon finds herself drawn to Fielding, as the pair bond over Conor’s symptoms and improvement. With their connection becoming more intense, Vanetia is forced to decide how she wants to spend the rest of her life.
The coming out sub-plot sees Vanetia and Conor’s son being bullied by members of his swim team, who accuse him of being gay. The whole storyline is subtle and beautiful, and you really find yourself rooting for him. His ‘coming out’ scene is wonderfully done and at no point is it turned into a huge deal, which is how it should be.
Aside from the subplot, this is a very simple story about the adjustments necessary after a serious illness, and the choices that must be made in light of this. Conor is no longer the man he was, but he is still the man Vanetia married. Peake handles Vanetia’s struggle well, switching between strong and steely, and vulnerable and weak. MacLiam – best known from TV’s Holby City, does a great job as Conor, really conveying the inner anguish and confusion that he feels as he tries to adjust to his new life. Forte is stoic as Dr Fielding, and has some lovely moments with Peake, although his scenes with Conor aren’t quite as strong. His is probably the least developed character in the movie, and you never really know what is driving him.
There are some hilarious moments, and despite the heavy subject matter, the film never becomes bogged down. There are also some annoying things, however. Peake’s Irish accent is all over the place, and it is extremely distracting. Some of the handheld camera work is very jumpy, which makes it difficult to maintain focus. These minor quibbles don’t detract from the viewer’s enjoyment, though. This just goes to show that if you have a good yarn and well-rounded characters, you don’t need lots of effects. It is storytelling at its best, and the fact it is set in Ireland is merely a bonus.
This is the kind of film that could travel well to other territories, and (thankfully) there is not an ounce of Paddywhackery in sight. Surprisingly uplifting, despite the premise, this will leave you counting your blessings.
In cinemas May 2