Run & Jump


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Run & Jump
"A rambling tale that mixes drama with gentle comedy."

Every year around 14,000 people in Ireland (north and south of the border) have strokes. Of these, around a third die, a third recover completely and another third survive but are left with serious difficulties as they work toward rehabilitation. Thirty-eight-year-old Conor (Edward MacLiam) is in the latter group. When he comes home from hospital he brings with him American researcher Ted (Will Forte) and his cameraman, who are studying his behaviour. His parents don't like it much but his wife, Vanetia (Maxine Peake) is positive about it - if nothing else, she could use the help, as she tries to cope with her husband's condition at the same time as coping for their two children.

What follows is a rambling tale that mixes drama with gentle comedy. At first there's the awkwardness you'd expect when people from very different backgrounds have just moved in together, along with the pressures of readjustment they all face due to the way Conor has changed. Gradually a sense of equilibrium develops, but the more functional and successful this multiple adult household becomes, the more unpleasant speculation it attracts from the local community, with even Conor's mother unhappy about how closely son Lenny (Brendan Morris) is bonding with Ted. Lenny, meanwhile, has worries of his own that have nothing to do with his family life, but with so much going on, it's not clear that anybody will notice in time to help.

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The film focuses primarily on Vanetia, her increasingly intense friendship with Ted and the weight of her submerged grief as she comes to terms with how the man she loves has changed. Peake delivers a forceful performance and shows us something of the complexity of life as a carer, constantly under scrutiny from people who really have no idea what it's like. It's unfortunate, though, that in taking this path the film really sidelines Conor's experience and there is a general, not just character-based failure to observe how hard he is having to work to try and reclaim his mind. Interesting moments when he connects with his young daughter are underexplored and as a result the film feels unbalanced - it's too easy to lose sight of his continued importance to those who love him.

In detailing the different ways that people can react to a common problem, the film does a good job of illustrating the social difficulties that emerge when layers of performance break down, with Conor finding it too hard to adjust his instinctive behaviour to suit other people and with the privilege that enables nuclear families to function stripped away. In this way it expands to provide a gentle critique of commonplace hypocrisy. Beyond this, however, there's little in the way of thematic development and at times it struggles to maintain its grip. It's beautifully photographed and many viewers will find it charming, but ultimately we remain outsiders looking in.

Reviewed on: 24 Feb 2014
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Run & Jump packshot
A woman struggles to deal with her husband's personality changes after he suffers a stroke.
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Director: Steph Green

Writer: Steph Green, Ailbhe Keogan

Starring: Maxine Peake, Edward MacLiam, Will Forte, Ciara Gallagher, Ruth McCabe

Year: 2013

Runtime: 102 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Ireland, Germany


Glasgow 2014

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