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BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN | Directed by the Academy Award-nominee Steph Green, “Run and Jump” follows the moving story of an Irish family in the wake of a tragedy. First, we encounter the mother, Vanetia Casey (excellently played by Maxine Peake). On a rainy day, she is picking up her husband Conor (Edward Macliam) from a hospital to bring him home, where their two young children and in-laws await them eagerly.
The narrative reveals that Conor, who is only in his late 30s, has had a stroke. His survival is considered somewhat of a miracle, but it has left him mentally disabled and fundamentally changed. Most importantly, he is not able to recognize his family members, nor his relationship to them — and he seems incapable of feeling any emotions towards humans, be it his wife, parents or children.
As the optimistic and spirited Vanetia is struggling to re-establish a sense of normalcy, a foreign houseguest further complicates matters. He arrives in the form of the quiet American doctor Ted Fielding, (played by “Saturday Night Live” alum Will Forte). Fielding had received a research grant to document every step of Conor’s reintegration and consequently takes up a room in the Casey’s home. It is his grant that provides the family with some crucial financial aid, as they soon realize that Conor will not be able to assume his role as breadwinner.
Although Vanetia first somewhat resents living under Ted’s scientific supervision, she soon comes to see him as a calming friend. She tells him about the family’s happy life before Conor’s stroke and it is her infectious lust for life that makes Ted fall for her. The situation becomes the more dramatic the more everyone (the audience included) realizes that Conor will never recover.
“Run and Jump” is somewhat of a hybrid. It is a portrait of a family facing tragedy, the story of human relationships and an unconventional romance. It is Green’s fine balance of light and devastating moments that leave the film to shake, move and soothe us. As much as “Run and Jump” makes you realize that life as we know and love it might be over in a heartbeat, it also serves as a pledge that there is always much to live for.
Directed by Steph Green
Screening at the Tribeca Film Festival
4/22 at 3:45pm and 4/23 at 8:30pm, at Clearview Cinemas Chelsea (260 W. 23rd St., btw. 7th & 8th Aves.)
4/26 at 6pm, at AMC Loews Village 7 (66 Third Ave., at 11th St.)
For tickets & info, call 646-502-5296 or visit tribecafilm.com/filmguide