How are things at home? – ★★★
It feels like Steph Green’s debut feature has been on the go for an age now. It premiered at last year’s Galway Film Fleadh and while neither Páraic or I managed to get to see it, it then made a splash at this year’s JDIFF and IFTAs ceremony. Throw in a US release last January and a seemingly never-ending promotional tour from actor Will Forte and it feels like the film’s actual release was months ago.
Run & Jump tells the story of a father Connor (Edward MacLiam) who returns to his family after suffering a stroke and being in a coma for a month. On his return to home life he is considerably more interested in wood-turning (woo) and nature documentaries. Trying to hold everything together for the clan is Maxine Peake as Vanetia/Mammy. American researcher and doctor Ted (Will Forte) is also on hand having been given a grant and a camcorder to study the family as Connor re-integrates, but rather than being much help he is initially much more of a hindrance. But would you believe it, over time everyone starts learning and growing from each other and it’s personal development all round.
Green is an American-born but Irish-resident director who made her name with the Oscar nominated short New Boy back in 2007 (nominated in 2009 for the sticklers amongst you). It’s taken her this long to finally get a feature off the ground with big financing delays for Run & Jump slowing things down considerably.
The script is co-written by Kerry’s Ailbhe Keogan and the filming was all done in and around the Kingdom. Visually it all looks great and the story is perfectly fine for a drama like this, it’s just hard to come out of the film saying you really loved it or connected with it.
The real stand-off performers here are Peake and Forte. They’re a great double-act and they’re the reason that the film works. While Forte recently showed his dramatic chops with the hangdog performance in Nebraska, both will be much more recognisable to TV fans (Peake as Myra Hindley in “See No Evil: The Moors Murders” and most recently in the brilliant BBC drama series “The Village”, Forte from a huge list of credits including “Saturday Night Live”, “30 Rock”, “American Dad”). It’s amusing to see them in a film set in Kerry and you wonder whether all the Irish actors were busy up in Sligo filming Calvary.
All in all, Run & Jump isn’t going to stick with you for too long but it’s a perfectly well-made, enjoyable film about a family redefining itself that manages to tick most of the boxes.
Released across Ireland on May 2nd 2014