Vanetia Casey (Maxine Peake), the spirited and impossibly optimistic center of the Casey family, is working hard to get life back to normal after her 38 year-old husband, Conor (Edward MacLiam), suffers a rare stroke which changes his personality. Tweedy American doctor, Ted Fielding, (Will Forte) arrives in Ireland to stay with them for two months: his research grant providing the Caseys with essential financial aid. Vanetia's a dynamo. But with two young kids and both men in the house, she's feeling bombarded and initially treats Ted and his study of Conor with resistance. Only when she observes Ted's calming influence on the family does she begin to value his friendship, and, in return, Ted enjoys their heady, happy-go-lucky world. But Ted's continued presence in the house sets the family on course for an emotional collision. Directed by Academy Award®-nominee Steph Green and featuring Saturday Night Live star Will Forte in an impressive dramatic debut, this life-affirming film ... Written by
Conor (Edward MacLiam) is an Irish carpenter who, at the age of 34, is unexpectedly felled by a stroke. Though he will never again be the man he was, Conor recovers sufficiently to allow him to return home to his wife, Vanetia (Maxine Peak), and two children. However, he is accompanied by Ted Fielding (a generally miscast Will Forte), an American brain specialist who moves in with the family so he can monitor and study Conor's condition on a 24/7 basis. While Ted, a single man without a wife or children of his own, is supposed to remain a neutral, emotionally detached observer of the situation, he finds himself more and more filling the void left by Conor, slipping into the role of father to the children and husband to the wife. Will Conor erupt in a jealous rage at this blatant disruption of his family unit, or will he have the grace to accept the fact that Ted can provide for his loved ones in a way that he himself no longer can?
Written by Ailbhe Keogan and Steph Green and directed by Green, "Run & Jump" is an unassuming, slice-of-life drama that is less about a man's struggle to overcome the harsh hand that's been dealt him and more about the effect that hand is having on those around him. How, the movie asks, does one re-establish a familial norm when the dynamics have effectively shifted and everyone's role in that family has been essentially redefined? This relationship-shuffling manifests itself in some surprising ways. Conor's stroke, for instance, has clearly affected the part of his brain that censors what he says, a condition that proves most taxing to his gay teenage son, who must suffer his dad's withering homophobic comments, keen in the knowledge that they reflect his own father's true, unfiltered feelings towards him. And there are many such examples.
Despite a certain sketchiness in some of the storytelling, "Run & Jump" is, for the most part, a poignant case study in family dynamics, one that both avoids melodrama and refuses to cast judgments on its characters as it explores the complexities of human relationships.
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