Run & Jump
A slightly-too-rose-tinted heartwarmer starring Maxine Peake and Will Forte
This charming, if slight Irish dramedy marks the debut of American director Steph Green, who was Oscar-nominated for her short film New Boy. Working from a script she co-wrote with Ailbhe Keogan, Green fashions a film whose positivity and romance is sure to win it fans, not least as it marks a long overdue cinematic leading role for small screen favourite Maxine Peake.
Peake plays Vanetia, whose husband Conor (Edward MacLiam) has recently suffered a stroke. His unexpected, partial recovery has sparked the interest of the scientific community and, as Vanetia collects him from the hospital, we learn that she has also agreed to take in American neuropsychologist Ted (Will Forte), who intends to observe Conor for a paper he's writing. He goes about this in a callously clinical way,with his observations making it abundantly clear that Conor is a shell of his former self. Despite this realisation, and the pressures of motherhood, Vanetia remains upbeat and Ted finds himself falling for this sunny spirit.
Peake has enough versatility and talent to make the leap to the big screen and she injects some believability into a character who is almost inhumanly lovely. In fact Run & Jump is too rose-tinted as a whole – failing to flesh out its characters, opting for a superficial approach to the challenging subject matter and an aesthetic radiance which distracts from its sins.
There's negligible chemistry between Peake and a largely flat Forte (who proved his dramatic chops in Nebraska) but the family's plight remains incredibly touching, as does a sub-plot involving Vanetia's son Lenny's struggle with his sexuality (a nice performance from Brendan Morris). Ultimately, for all its flaws Run & Jump is a big, cheery lummox of a film – one with a huge heart that's very difficult not to like.
Limited release from Fri 23 May.